Forbion spotlights late-stage plays, carves out new €250M growth fund
Having staked its rep on picking out a mix of biotech investment opportunities across the “build,” “enable,” “growth” continuum, Forbion is launching its first fund dedicated to late-stage opportunities.
Forbion Growth Opportunities Fund’s first close brought in €185 million ($208 million). Existing investors Pantheon, KfW Capital and the European Investment Fund came on board, joined by new backers Eli Lilly, Horizon Therapeutics, Belgian Growth Fund and New Waves Investments.
While investing out of the €360 million Fund IV, the team observed an increase in high-quality companies that are in need of sizable “growth” capital to push into the next stage, said Sander Slootweg, managing partner and co-founder. (Think AM-Pharma, Prilenia and Achilles Therapeutics.)
They believe this approach “gives more focus and superior returns compared to simply expanding the size and focus,” of the successor Fund V, added general partner Dirk Kersten.
European pharma spinouts, mature clinical development assets, crossover funding for a near-term IPO and capital injections for undervalued public companies are the kinds of things that would get them excited. Regardless of the specific deal, Forbion Growth will strive to take leading positions and put in up to €30 million each.
Slootweg and Kersten have recruited a star-studded advisory group for some entrepreneurial insight, tapping the CEOs of some of Europe’s best known biotechs: Onno van de Stolpe of Galapagos, Jan van de Winkel of Genmab, Tim van Hauwermeiren of Argenx, Werner Lanthaler of Evotec and Maarten de Jong of Moelis & Co.
While the new fund might share similar disease interests with the main funds — namely areas like cardiovascular, ophthalmology, dermatology, specialty/hospital care where pharma is more likely to look for commercial-ready assets to buy than develop something in-house — there will be little overlap in what they ultimately back.
Slootweg breaks it down:
The cut off in terms of development stage to decide where to allocate a deal is < phase ii => forbion 4 and 5 and >phase ii b => forbion growth. Other criteria are % ownership, private vs public or cross over.
Having started soliciting funds in February, he plans to raise €65 million more by the end of the year, assembling a portfolio of 8 to 12 with €250 million total.