Amid Woodford debacle, Immunocore cuts valuation as it secures $74M from General Atlantic — report
Immunocore appears to be the latest domino to fall around Neil Woodford’s debacle as it solicits new backing at a drastically lower valuation.
Once a star in the UK biotech scene, Immunocore fetched $320 million to launch a sprawling operation around TCR research and its valuation had once reached nearly $1 billion (£800m). But that figure has been slashed to around $621 million (£500 million) in its latest financing, the Telegraph reported.
New York-based General Atlantic has committed an initial £60 million to what is shaping up to be a £100 million round, the newspaper added.
Signs of trouble at Immunocore first emerged well before the Woodford fallout. Eliot Forster hit the exit last February just as he was supposedly putting together another megaround for the company, and an executive exodus followed. Several people familiar with internal talks previously told Endpoints News that the biotech was having a hard time sticking with its high-end unicorn valuation, leading to the departures.
Bahija Jallal, former president of the now-defunct MedImmune unit at AstraZeneca, has since taken over as CEO. Reassurance to investors and stability would be key to her tenure, she said when she joined in January.
Woodford’s high profile involvement with the company didn’t help. A cut in Immunocore’s valuation could put more strain on Woodford as he looks to cash out some private holdings in search of liquidity for his Equity Income fund, which was abruptly suspended back in June. He has vowed to reopen the fund in December — provided he secures enough cash to meet any redemptions that disgruntled investors would request once they get the chance.
In an interim report published in July, the fund put the value of its Immunocore shares at £23 million, down from £45 million at the end of last year.
Co-investors have blamed Woodford for steep drops in the overall value of some biotechs their portfolios share with his, as his well-publicized woes shake others’ confidence in companies he has stakes in. Most recently, BenevolentAI bagged $90 million with its valuation halved. Oxford Nanopore, a DNA sequencing company, is also apparently being prepped for auction.
Adam Stoten, the chief operating officer at Oxford University’s spinout office, said in an interview with the Telegraph they are having to “weather the storm” and diversify their investor base after years of receiving investment from Woodford.