Hong Kong-based Prenetics Group has signed an agreement to go public on the Nasdaq through a merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Artisan Acquisition Corporation.

The deal values the Covid-19 testing firm at $1.25bn.

The transaction, which will have nearly $1.7bn combined equity value, is expected to generate $459m in total proceeds, including a PIPE, $120m worth forward purchase agreements and up to $339m of cash currently held in Artisan’s trust.

This marks Prenetics as the first Hong Kong-based unicorn to become publicly traded in any market.

Founded in 2014, the company focuses on rapid diagnostics for Covid-19 and other infectious diseases, as well as genomic testing and colorectal cancer screening.

Last month, Prenetics introduced a CE-IVD point-of-care diagnostics and at-home rapid detection health monitoring system, called Circle HealthPod, in Hong Kong.

The system is initially designed for Covid-19, but research and development (R&D) activities are ongoing for tests for influenza and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Created at the University of Oxford, the Circle HealthPod technology provides results comparable to laboratory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in 20 minutes on the device or a smartphone.

Prenetics is working to obtain Emergency Use Authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration for Circle HealthPod by the first quarter of next year.

The company is growing its production capacity to meet the rising worldwide demand for Covid-19 tests.

It also provides a one-stop laboratory PCR testing solution for Covid-19, with more than five million tests conducted so far.

Prenetics’ portfolio additionally includes a consumer DNA test called CircleDNA, which uses whole exome sequencing technology to deliver health reports.

Other products in the company’s pipeline are ColoClear, a non-invasive colon cancer stool DNA test, at-home blood testing device Circle Snapshot, and Circle Medical genetic testing for physicians.

Prenetics expects proceeds from the SPAC merger to support its further growth and will leverage the funds for strategic acquisitions, R&D, product rollout and expansion into the US, EMEA and Southeast Asia.

Prenetics CEO and co-founder Danny Yeung said: “With a strong existing business, an exciting product pipeline, and a clear mergers and acquisitions strategy for USA geographical expansion, we have first-mover advantage and are well-positioned for our next chapter of growth.”