Offering much needed relief for Woodford-associated funds, sequencing unicorn Oxford Nanopore raises $105.9M in new cash
Investors in Oxford Nanopore Technologies — including Neil Woodford’s former fund — has managed to recoup some cash as the gene sequencing device maker closes its latest round and, in the process, boosts its unicorn valuation.
The company said it’s brought in $38.6 million (£29.3 million) in new capital and helped some backers find new firms to take their stake, leading to a secondary sale totaling $105.9 million (£80.2 million). All told, the $144.5 million (£109.5 million) financing upped its valuation to over $2 billion, the Times reported.
No details were given about the new investors except that they came from the United States, Europe and Asia Pacific. Singapore’s Temasek was reportedly eyeing a deal.
Among the existing investors who offloaded parts of their holdings is the IP Group, once Woodford’s darling, and the Equity Income Fund that’s in the process of being liquidated after firing Woodford as the manager.
They had to sell their secondary shares at a price 9% lower than the cost of new shares — £53 versus £58 — the Times added.
But discounted or not, any cash injection is counted as a win for the investors whose money have been trapped since last June, when Woodford abruptly froze his flagship Equity Income Fund. Then in October, after the beleaguered stockpicker spent months trying to sell off unlisted holdings and replenish his portfolio with listed assets, he was unceremoniously sacked by Link Fund Solutions, the authorized corporate director of the fund. Link announced that the fund wouldn’t reopen after all.
Instead, Link retained BlackRock Advisors and PJT Partners to sell what they can so that they can return to investors some portion of their original commitments. The first payment is due by the end of this month.
London-based IP Group said it became collateral damage of Woodford’s demise. While gaining his favor was once a badge of honor for biotech upstarts, their association with him had “adversely impacted valuations and constrained funding availability” in the first half of 2019. Soon after, Woodford sold his entire stake at a discount for around £76 million.
“We’re delighted to see another successful fundraising for Oxford Nanopore which rounds off an impressive year of commercial success and technical validation of nanopore sequencing,” IP Group chief executive Alan Aubrey said in a statement.
Spun out of the University of Oxford, Nanopore boasts “scalable” DNA and RNA sequencing tech that can range from bench-top devices to pocket-sized machines.