Grail Inc., the cancer-detection startup backed by the world’s two richest men, is seeking to raise about $1 billion to boost growth ahead of its planned initial public offering in Hong Kong, according to people familiar with the matter.
The company, whose investors include Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates and the personal venture fund of Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos, is working with advisers on the new round, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private. A final decision hasn’t been made on the round, which is at a preliminary stage, and its timing and size could still change, the people said.
Charlotte Arnold, a spokeswoman for Menlo Park, California-based Grail, said the company doesn’t comment on market speculation or its financing plans.
Grail is planning an initial public offering in Hong Kong this year, people with knowledge of the matter have said.
Formed by U.S.-listed genetic sequencing firm Illumina Inc., the startup last year completed the largest biotech funding round ever, raising more than $900 million in the first close of a Series B financing, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The company’s other backers include Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Celgene Corp., Johnson & Johnson Innovation and Merck & Co., as well as Tencent Holdings Ltd., China’s biggest internet company, according to its website.
Grail’s goal is to create a “pan-cancer” screening test that can diagnose people at a very early stage even when they have no symptoms, according to a 2016 interview with Jay Flatley, Illumina’s chief executive officer at the time. Grail said in a statement in December that its first product, a screening test for nasopharyngeal cancer, a type of cancer prevalent in Southeast Asia and southern China, would be launched this year.
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