Symphony Capital closes $315m funds

The New York biopharmaceutical specialist closes its first ever fund alongside a friends-and-family vehicle.

New York-based private equity firm Symphony Capital announced today the closing of its maiden funds, Symphony Capital Partners and Symphony Strategic Partners, with $315 million (€238 million) in total commitments.

According to a source close to the firm, the two funds exceeded their initial target of $250 million. The primary fund, Symphony Capital Partners, closed on its hard cap of $300 million while the parallel fund, Symphony Strategic Partners, is composed primarily of “friends and family” and will not include charges for carry or management fees. The firm plans to invest between $50 million and $75 million in each deal.

Symphony Capital acquires biopharmaceutical drugs in their development stages and finances and manages the clinical trials in conjunction with the initial drug company. Through a buyback option in the purchase agreement, the drug company retains the right to re-acquire the drugs at a pre-determined time and price.

Earlier this year, the firm, through its portfolio company, Symphony Neuro Development Company, completed its first investment with the acquisition of certain licensing rights for GPI 1485 from Guilford Pharmaceuticals. Symphony Neuro will invest up to $40 million to develop GPI 1485 in four indications:  Parkinson's disease, post-prostatectomy erectile dysfunction, HIV neuropathy and HIV dementia. Guilford received an exclusive purchase option to buy all the equity of Symphony Neuro at an exercise price ranging from $75 million in April 2005 and increasing to $120 million in March 2007

Symphony Capital was founded in 2002 by Mark Kessel, Neil Sandler, Harri Taranto, Andrew Busser and Jeffrey Edelman. Kessel was previously managing director of Shearman & Sterling, a New York-based law firm, while Sandler was previously a principal at Behrman Capital, a $1.8 billion New York private equity firm. Prior to co-founding Symphony, Taranto and Busser co-founded Wilkerson Partners, a healthcare and life sciences strategy consulting firm, where Edelman was a principal.