SV de­buts a new, $400M fund with a big fo­cus on biotech star­tups

Af­ter tweak­ing its name, SV Health In­vestors un­veiled its sixth main fund with $400 mil­lion, a step down from its last big raise way back in 2010.

SV is best known for its biotech plays as an ac­tive in­vestor in the start­up com­mu­ni­ty. But the ven­ture firm al­so tar­gets med­ical de­vices, dig­i­tal health and health­care ser­vices, which is one rea­son it dropped Life Sci­ences from the name.

Kate Bing­ham, SV Health In­vestors

SV has of­fices root­ed in the three big glob­al hubs: Lon­don, Cam­bridge, MA and San Fran­cis­co. It has backed com­pa­nies like Mi­cromet — bought out by Am­gen for $1.16 bil­lion — along with In­cyte, Achillion and Shire in the ear­ly days. Its cur­rent in­vest­ments in­clude Sutro, Kalvista and Cataba­sis, which has had to grap­ple with some re­cent set­backs in the clin­ic, in­clud­ing a flop for Duchenne mus­cu­lar dy­s­tro­phy.

Fund V at SV came in with $523 mil­lion, but the firm al­so runs oth­er, small­er funds, in­clud­ing one de­vot­ed to non-amy­loid de­men­tia R&D.

In most cas­es, the ven­ture firms have been lin­ing up record amounts for new funds over the last few years. There’s al­so been a sud­den spurt in new mon­ey com­ing in­to the field, in­clud­ing Piv­otal bioVen­ture Part­ners’ $300 mil­lion fund run by Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Tra­cy Sax­ton and backed by a sin­gle Chi­nese in­vestor. Bio­mat­ics — a $200 mil­lion ven­ture run by Boris Nikolic and Julie Sun­der­land — and Bill Maris’ per­son­al ven­ture arm Sec­tor 32 ar­rived as well, with Bain Cap­i­tal (Adam Kop­pel) work­ing on a brand new fund of its own, which is like­ly to be siz­able.

“It’s ex­cit­ing to con­tin­ue ap­ply­ing our team’s ex­per­tise, net­works and op­er­at­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for en­tre­pre­neurs and com­pa­nies that have the po­ten­tial to de­vel­op and ad­vance im­por­tant new treat­ments and so­lu­tions. We are back­ing re­mark­able en­tre­pre­neurs and proven op­er­at­ing ex­ec­u­tives who are help­ing trans­form health­care and im­prove pa­tients’ lives,” said Paul LaVi­o­lette, SV Health In­vestors man­ag­ing part­ner. Over the past 18 months, he added, the firm has in­creased the size of its team by 30%.

Its team in­cludes Kate Bing­ham in Lon­don and Joshua Resnick in Boston, who switched to SV in ear­ly 2016.

Pfiz­er’s Doug Gior­dano has $500M — and some ad­vice — to of­fer a cer­tain breed of 'break­through' biotech

So let’s say you’re running a cutting-edge, clinical-stage biotech, probably public, but not necessarily so, which could see some big advantages teaming up with some marquee researchers, picking up say $50 million to $75 million dollars in a non-threatening minority equity investment that could take you to the next level.

Doug Giordano might have some thoughts on how that could work out.

The SVP of business development at the pharma giant has helped forge a new fund called the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. And he has $500 million of Pfizer’s money to put behind 7 to 10 — or so — biotech stocks that fit that general description.

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Bris­tol My­ers is clean­ing up the post-Cel­gene merg­er pipeline, and they’re sweep­ing out an ex­per­i­men­tal check­point in the process

Back during the lead up to the $74 billion buyout of Celgene, the big biotech’s leadership did a little housecleaning with a major pact it had forged with Jounce. Out went the $2.6 billion deal and a collaboration on ICOS and PD-1.

Celgene, though, also added a $530 million deal — $50 million up front — to get the worldwide rights to JTX-8064, a drug that targets the LILRB2 receptor on macrophages.

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Leen Kawas, Athira CEO (Athira)

Can a small biotech suc­cess­ful­ly tack­le an Ever­est climb like Alzheimer’s? Athi­ra has $85M and some in­flu­en­tial back­ers ready to give it a shot

There haven’t been a lot of big venture rounds for biotech companies looking to run a Phase II study in Alzheimer’s.

The field has been a disaster over the past decade. Amyloid didn’t pan out as a target — going down in a litany of Phase III failures — and is now making its last stand at Biogen. Tau is a comer, but when you look around and all you see is destruction, the idea of backing a startup trying to find complex cocktails to swing the course of this devilishly complicated memory-wasting disease would daunt the pluckiest investors.

Fangliang Zhang, AP Images

UP­DAT­ED: Leg­end fetch­es $424 mil­lion, emerges as biggest win­ner yet in pan­dem­ic IPO boom as shares soar

Amid a flurry of splashy pandemic IPOs, a J&J-partnered Chinese biotech has emerged with one of the largest public raises in biotech history.

Legend Biotech, the Nanjing-based CAR-T developer, has raised $424 million on NASDAQ. The biotech had originally filed for a still-hefty $350 million, based on a range of $18-$20, but managed to fetch $23 per share, allowing them to well-eclipse the massive raises from companies like Allogene, Juno, Galapagos, though they’ll still fall a few dollars short of Moderna’s record-setting $600 million raise from 2018.

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As it hap­pened: A bid­ding war for an an­tibi­ot­ic mak­er in a mar­ket that has rav­aged its peers

In a bewildering twist to the long-suffering market for antibiotics — there has actually been a bidding war for an antibiotic company: Tetraphase.

It all started back in March, when the maker of Xerava (an FDA approved therapy for complicated intra-abdominal infections) said it had received an offer from AcelRx for an all-stock deal valued at $14.4 million.

The offer was well-timed. Xerava was approved in 2018, four years after Tetraphase posted its first batch of pivotal trial data, and sales were nowhere near where they needed to be in order for the company to keep its head above water.

RA Cap­i­tal, Hill­house join $310M rush to back Ever­est's climb to com­mer­cial heights in Chi­na

Money has never been an issue for Everest Medicines. With an essentially open tab from their founders at C-Bridge Capital, the biotech has gone two and a half years racking up drug after drug, bringing in top exec after top exec, and issuing clinical update after update.

But now other investors want in — and they’re betting big.

Everest is closing its Series C at $310 million. The first $50 million comes from the Jiashan National Economic and Technological Development Zone; the remaining C-2 tranche was led by Janchor Partners, with RA Capital Management and Hillhouse Capital as co-leaders. Decheng Capital, GT Fund, Janus Henderson Investors, Rock Springs Capital, Octagon Investments all joined.

Por­tion of Neil Wood­ford’s re­main­ing in­vest­ments, in­clud­ing Nanopore, sold off for $284 mil­lion

It’s been precisely one year and one day since Neil Woodford froze his once-vaunted fund, and while a global pandemic has recently shielded him from the torrent of headlines, the fallout continues.

Today, the California-based patent licensing firm Acacia Research acquired the fund’s shares for 19 healthcare and biotech companies for $284 million.  Those companies include shares for public and private companies and count some of Woodford’s most prominent bio-bets, such as Theravance Biopharma, Oxford Nanopore and Mereo Biopharma, according to Sky News, which first reported the sale. It won’t include shares for BenevelontAI, the machine learning biotech once valued at $2 billion.

Drug man­u­fac­tur­ing gi­ant Lon­za taps Roche/phar­ma ‘rein­ven­tion’ vet as its new CEO

Lonza chairman Albert Baehny took his time headhunting a new CEO for the company, making it absolutely clear he wanted a Big Pharma or biotech CEO with a good long track record in the business for the top spot. In the end, he went with the gold standard, turning to Roche’s ranks to recruit Pierre-Alain Ruffieux for the job.

Ruffieux, a member of the pharma leadership team at Roche, spent close to 5 years at the company. But like a small army of manufacturing execs, he gained much of his experience at the other Big Pharma in Basel, remaining at Novartis for 12 years before expanding his horizons.

Covid-19 roundup: Ab­b­Vie jumps in­to Covid-19 an­ti­body hunt; As­traZeneca shoots for 2B dos­es of Ox­ford vac­cine — with $750M from CEPI, Gavi

Another Big Pharma is entering the Covid-19 antibody hunt.

AbbVie has announced a collaboration with the Netherlands’ Utrecht University and Erasmus Medical Center and the Chinese-Dutch biotech Harbour Biomed to develop a neutralizing antibody that can treat Covid-19. The antibody, called 47D11, was discovered by AbbVie’s three partners, and AbbVie will support early preclinical work, while preparing for later preclinical and clinical development. Researchers described the antibody in Nature Communications last month.