PowderMed, a UK biotechnology company specialising in DNA-based vaccines, has been acquired by pharmaceuticals group Pfizer in a deal which is expected to provide a profitable exit for its venture capital investors.
No transaction price was disclosed for the transaction but the Financial Times said today that Pfizer had paid up to $400 million (€318 million) for PowderMed.
Oxford-based PowderMed was created in May 2004 as a spin-out of Chiron Vaccines, the powder injection DNA vaccines technology unit of Chiron Corporation.
The company was backed at the time by a £20 million investment from Advent Venture Partners, Abingworth Management, Oxford Bioscience Partners, the ISIS College Fund and SV Life Sciences, previously known as Schroder Ventures Life Sciences.
Benjamin declined to comment on the transaction details, but said that the firm had made a “substantial return” and that the exit was “up there with the best of our deals”: “It’s one of the largest acquisitions ever of a venture-backed UK biotechnology company, so it definitely puts biotechnology on the map. The sector is positive at the moment in terms of potential exits through the M&A route, although the public markets have not been very receptive. But there is certainly a lot of competition from the big pharmas and biotechs for companies that can contribute to their pipeline.
The firm made its investment from Advent Private Equity Fund III, which raised €440 million in 2001. Benjamin said the fund is now approximately 90 percent invested. Fund IV closed with €185 million of commitments last year.
Last month, Advent Venture Partners formed Speciality European Pharma, a new company focused on acquiring speciality pharmaceutical prescription products, headed by Geoff McMillan, a former senior executive at Roche, Elan and Xenova.