Eduardo Bravo returns to bring European biotech in on the SPAC splurge
Eduardo Bravo, the Big Pharma alum and former CEO of the cell therapy company TiGenix, has launched European Biotech Acquisition. Based in Amsterdam (if a SPAC can be said to be based anywhere besides the Cayman Islands and Amazon Web Services), the new shell company will try to raise $100 million and use it to take a European biotech public within 2 years.
Although Bravo has taken a couple board seats, the SPAC represents his first major move since Takeda bought out TiGenix and their off-the-shelf stem cell technology for $600 million in 2018. Joining him are two managing partners from Life Science Partners: Martijn Kleijwegt, who helped build the now BioMarin-owned biotech Prosensa and a biotech that later became J&J Vaccines, and Mark Wegter, who is on the board of Kiadis.
Bravo and LSP’s pitch to investors is that European biotechs have been severely undervalued, despite the fact that the pace of scientific research and development on the continent is on par with the pace in the US: Both areas produce a similar number of patents — a common metric for sociologists measuring scientific activity — but there’s four or five times less VC cash available and valuations are four to five times smaller.
There is also, they said, “robust merger & acquisition transaction volumes,” pointing to where they might ultimately want to see any company they merged with go. LSP’s recent exits include the natural killer cell company Nkarta, which went public for $289 million amid the IPO boom last year, and the autoimmune disease biotech Immunic, which pulled off a reverse merger in 2019.
Takeda, meanwhile, submitted TiGenix’s lead stem cell therapy for approval in Japan last week. Although OK’d in Europe for Crohn’s disease, it has yet to get FDA approval.