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Abingworth closes record life sciences fund at £300 million

Abingworth has closed a record £300 million fund, which will target life sciences investments in Europe and North America.

Abingworth Management, a UK venture capital firm that specialises in life sciences, has closed a £300 million (€588 million) fund, the biggest ever raised in Europe for investments in the sector.

Abingworth started marketing the fund in October, and held a first close in December at £222 million. It was able to exceed its initial target of £250 million following strong investor demand, leading to a final close at £300 million.

The fund, Abingworth Bioventures V, will make investments of up to £20 million in biotechnology and medical companies, targeting both early-stage and more mature companies. About half of its planned 20 investments will be in Europe, and the other half in the US.

Dr Stephen Bunting, managing director of Abingworth, said the mix of investors was not substantially different from the last fund. “We have brought in some new investors, but we were also keen to keep our existing investors happy.” About 45 percent of investors are European, 47 percent are from North America, and the remaining 8 percent from the rest of the world.

Bunting said the firm’s scale and international reach had appealed to investors. “We have a significantly sized team – we’re very well resourced. And our continental focus was more important this time round too.” The firm has US offices in California and Massachusetts as well as London and Cambridge in the UK, which helped give European companies exposure to public markets in the UK and potential merger opportunities in the US, he said.

A number of good exits, including the $400 million (€310 million) sale of Powdermed to Pfizer in October, also meant its investors enjoyed a strong year for distributions. “We’re one of the few firms to have a dedicated exit team,” Bunting added. One investor said this made Abingworth more adept than other firms at selling businesses, rather than always choosing to list them.

MVision acted as placement agent for the fundraising, while SJ Berwin and Proskauer Rose provided legal advice.