Neil Woodford (Woodford Investment Management via YouTube)

Neil Wood­ford in the game to buy back his for­mer un­list­ed port­fo­lio that's prov­ing hard to sell — re­ports

As bro­kers strug­gle to of­fload the port­fo­lio of as­sets for­mer­ly man­aged by Neil Wood­ford, an un­like­ly buy­er has emerged.

The dis­graced stock­pick­er is re­port­ed­ly gaug­ing in­vestor in­ter­est in a come­back bid to reac­quire some of those un­list­ed com­pa­ny stakes, in­clud­ing eq­ui­ty in drug dis­cov­ery start­up Benev­o­len­tAI and TCR play­er Im­muno­core.

If he man­ages to pull enough fund­ing — £500 mil­lion (close to $720 mil­lion) would be re­quired — Wood­ford would set up a new ve­hi­cle to buy back his dar­lings at a dis­count. The tar­get au­di­ence will be pro­fes­sion­al, so­phis­ti­cat­ed back­ers rather than re­tail in­vestors.

Sky News first re­port­ed the news, which was then echoed by the Times and oth­er out­lets.

“Neil is dip­ping his toe in very gen­tly,” a source told This is Mon­ey. “He has had a hand­ful of con­ver­sa­tions with in­sti­tu­tion­al in­vestors to gauge their ap­petite.”

Bloomberg pre­vi­ous­ly not­ed that Wood­ford and busi­ness part­ner Craig New­man have met up with co-in­vestors in Chi­na and the Mid­dle East for a po­ten­tial new ven­ture fo­cused on ear­ly-staged as­sets. It’s un­clear whether they dis­cussed buy­ing his for­mer hold­ings.

Af­ter Wood­ford abrupt­ly froze his flag­ship Eq­ui­ty In­come Fund, bar­ring in­vestors from re­deem­ing, sell­ing or oth­er­wise pulling out their in­vest­ments last June, it took Link Fund So­lu­tions to fire him and de­cide to liq­ui­date the fund. But while the sale of the list­ed por­tion of the port­fo­lio, en­trust­ed to Black­Rock, went smooth­ly, PJT Part­ners had a much hard­er time se­cur­ing a good deal for the pri­vate star­tups in the mix. With some of those hold­ings boast­ing uni­corn sta­tus, it was like­ly dif­fi­cult for the sell­er and buy­ers to reach agree­ment on the val­u­a­tion.

Last month the Sun­day Times re­port­ed that a £550 mil­lion res­cue deal col­lapsed af­ter WG Part­ners, the life sci­ences-fo­cused bou­tique in­vest­ment bank, failed to as­sem­ble a group of in­vestors will­ing to help take over Wood­ford’s 20 star­tups on time.

The Wood­ford fall­out was cit­ed as one fac­tor weigh­ing down mar­ket sen­ti­ment in the UK BioIn­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion’s an­nu­al re­port. It al­so “cre­at­ed a dif­fi­cult en­vi­ron­ment for some com­pa­nies with­in that port­fo­lio, over­shad­ow­ing pos­i­tive mile­stones.”

But oth­ers have moved on. Ox­ford Nanopore Tech­nolo­gies be­gan the year with $38.6 mil­lion (£29.3 mil­lion) in new cap­i­tal for its gene se­quenc­ing de­vice busi­ness, while man­ag­ing to help Wood­ford and oth­er ex­ist­ing in­vestors find new firms to take their stakes to­talling $105.9 mil­lion (£80.2 mil­lion). And with for­mer Med­Im­mune chief Bahi­ja Jal­lal now at the helm fol­low­ing an ex­ec ex­o­dus, Im­muno­core has re­cent­ly added $130 mil­lion to its cof­fers.

Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk gestures to the audience after being recognized by President Trump following the successful launch of a Falcon 9 rocket at the Kennedy Space Center. (via Getty Images)

Tes­la chief Elon Musk teams up with Covid-19 play­er Cure­Vac to build 'R­NA mi­cro­fac­to­ries'

Elon Musk has joined the global tech crusade now underway to revolutionize vaccine manufacturing — now aimed at delivering billions of doses of a new mRNA vaccine to fight Covid-19. And he’s cutting right to the front.

In a late-night tweet Wednesday, the Tesla chief announced:

Tesla, as a side project, is building RNA microfactories for CureVac & possibly others.

That’s not a lot to go on. But the tweet comes a year after Tesla’s German division in Grohmann and CureVac filed a patent on a “bioreactor for RNA in vitro transcription, a method for RNA in vitro transcription, a module for transcribing DNA into RNA and an automated apparatus for RNA manufacturing.” CureVac, in the meantime, has discussed a variety of plans to build microfactories that can speed up the whole process for a global supply chain.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 84,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

George Yancopoulos (Regeneron)

UP­DAT­ED: Re­gen­eron co-founder George Yan­copou­los of­fers a com­bat­ive de­fense of the po­lice at a high school com­mence­ment. It didn’t go well

Typically, the commencement speech at Yorktown Central School District in Westchester — like most high schools — is an opportunity to encourage students to face the future with confidence and hope. Regeneron president and co-founder George Yancopoulos, though, went a different route.

In a fiery speech, the outspoken billionaire defended the police against the “prejudice and bias against law enforcement” that has erupted around the country in street protests from coast to coast. And for many who attended the commencement, Yancopoulos struck the wrong note at the wrong time, especially when he combatively challenged someone for interrupting his speech with a honk for “another act of cowardness.”

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 84,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Elias Zerhouni (Photo by Vincent Isore/IP3/Getty Images)

Elias Zer­houni dis­cuss­es ‘am­a­teur hour’ in DC, the de­struc­tion of in­fec­tious dis­ease R&D and how we need to prep for the next time

Elias Zerhouni favors blunt talk, and in a recent discussion with NPR, the ex-Sanofi R&D and ex-NIH chief had some tough points to make regarding the pandemic response.

Rather than interpret them, I thought it would be best to provide snippets straight from the interview.

On the Trump administration response:

It was basically amateur hour. There is no central concept of operations for preparedness, for pandemics, period. This administration doesn’t want to or has no concept of what it takes to protect the American people and the world because it is codependent. You can’t close your borders and say, “OK, we’re going to be safe.” You’re not going to be able to do that in this world. So it’s a lack of vision, basically just a lack of understanding, of what it takes to protect the American people.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 84,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Douglas Love, Annexon CEO (Annexon)

IPO bound? A Bay Area biotech grabs a mega-round on the road to a piv­otal neu­rode­gen­er­a­tion pro­gram

South San Francisco-based Annexon has added $100 million to its cash reserves, along with a new roster of marquee investors backing their play on the classical complement pathway involved in neurodegeneration. And that may well fit the profile for an IPO — though right now everything seems to be working on that score.

Eighteen months after Bain and their syndicate partners put up $75 million to fuel clinical work, Annexon is back at the trough. And this time they’re adding Redmile Group for the lead role, with supporting investments from these new arrivals: BlackRock, Deerfield Management Company, Eventide Asset Management, Farallon Capital Management, Janus Henderson Investors and Logos Capital.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 84,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Sec­ond death trig­gers hold on Astel­las' $3B gene ther­a­py biotech's lead pro­gram, rais­ing fresh con­cerns about AAV

Seven months after Astellas shelled out $3 billion to acquire the gene therapy player Audentes, the biotech company’s lead program has been put on hold following the death of 2 patients taking a high dose of their treatment. And there was another serious adverse event recorded in the study as well, with a total of 3 “older” patients in the study affected.

The incidents are derailing plans to file for a near-term approval, which had been expected right about now.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 84,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

An ex­pe­ri­enced biotech is stitched to­geth­er from transpa­cif­ic parts, with 265 staffers and a fo­cus on ‘new bi­ol­o­gy’

Over the past few years, different teams at a pair of US-based biotechs and in labs in Japan have labored to piece together a group of cancer drug programs, sharing a single corporate umbrella with research colleagues in Japan. But now their far-flung operations have been knit together into a single unit, creating a pipeline with 10 cancer drug development programs — going from early-stage right into Phase III — and a host of discovery projects managed by a collective staff of some 265 people.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 84,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Look­ing for 'ex­ter­nal in­no­va­tion,' Boehringer In­gel­heim re­serves $500M+ for new Shang­hai hub

Now that Boehringer Ingelheim’s bet on contract manufacturing in China has paid off, the German drugmaker is anteing up more to get into the research game.

Boehringer has set aside $507.9 million (€451 million) for a new External Innovation Hub to be built in Shanghai over five years. The site will become one of its “strategic pillars” as the team strives to get 71 approvals — either for new products or indications — by 2030, said Felix Gutsche, president and CEO of Boehringer Ingelheim China.

Vas Narasimhan, Novartis CEO (Patrick Straub/​EPA-EFE/​Shutterstock)

No­var­tis pays $678M for kick­back scheme as Vas Narasimhan tries to dis­tance phar­ma gi­ant from shady be­hav­ior

Novartis has reached another large settlement to resolve misconduct allegations, agreeing to pay more than $678 million to settle claims that it had spent hundreds of millions of dollars on lavish dinners, so-called speaking fees and expensive alcohol “that were nothing more than bribes” to get doctors to prescribe Novartis medications.

The top-shelf alcohol and lavish meals included a $3,250 per person night at Nobu in Dallas, a $672-per person dinner at Washington DC’s Smith & Wollensky and a $314 per person meal at Sushi Roku in Pasadena, according to the Justice Department complaint. There were at least 7 trips to Hooters and fishing trips in Alaska and off the Florida coast. Each of these events were supposed to be “speaker programs” where doctors educated other doctors on a drug, but the DOJ alleged many were “bogus” wine-and-dine events where the drug was barely mentioned, if at all.  (“Nobody presented slides on the fishing trips,” the complaint says.)

No­vavax snags Ben Machielse for CMC and pro­motes a trio of staffers; Mar­ty Du­vall lands an­oth­er CEO post at On­copep­tides

Novavax has been making waves recently by securing a $384 million commitment from CEPI to cover R&D and manufacturing for its Covid-19 vaccine while also spending $167 million on a 150,000 square-foot facility. The Maryland biotech continues to shore up its leadership team as well, bringing in Ben Machielse as their EVP of CMC just a couple weeks after nabbing AstraZeneca vet Filip Dubrovsky as their new CMO. Machielse was president and CEO of Vtesse from 2014-17, and before that, he also spent more than 11 years at MedImmune and was EVP of operations for the back half of his tenure.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 84,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.