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16 June, 2014 - 07:56 By Tony Quested

Cambridge biotech targets July IPO to hit markets worth billions

Abzena CEO John Burt

Biopharma technology business Abzena Limited – set to move its UK HQ from London to Cambridge – plans to float on AIM in July as it targets global markets worth billions.

The revenue-generating life sciences company is declining to say how much it wants to raise through the IPO but based on its last funding round, it will be sizeable.

The company has major backers, such as Imperial Innovations, keen to see the recently enlarged group cash in on its technologies and services for global biopharma.

Cenkos Securities plc is acting as nominated adviser and broker to the company.

Abzena was created from the combination of the businesses of PolyTherics, Antitope and Warwick Effect Polymers. It currently employs 83 staff and operates from three facilities in Cambridge, London and Coventry but the group’s London operations will be relocated in the second half of 2014 to the Babraham Research Campus in Cambridge where Antitope is based.

Abzena’s headquarters and major operations will then be positioned at the heart of one of the world's leading clusters for biopharmaceutical innovation.

Key investors include Imperial Innovations Group plc, ProVen Growth and Income VCT plc, University College London, Wellcome Trust and funds and investments managed by Invesco, Catapult Ventures, Longbow Capital LLP, Mercia Fund Management and YFM Equity Partners.  

CEO John Burt said the proceeds of the IPO would underpin further global expansion for the group as well as providing useful working capital.

Abzena plans to invest in short and long-term drivers of revenue; increase service capacity to meet growth in demand; develop existing technologies to enhance licence revenue opportunities; create value through co-investment in adoption of the group’s technologies by its partners; develop complementary new services and technologies and add others through in-licensing or mergers & acquisitions.

Abzena’s mission is to enable R & D companies to develop better biopharmaceutical products – e.g. therapeutic antibodies and proteins – with improved efficacy, fewer side effects, more predictable quality and improved patient compliance.

The target markets are among the highest in the world of life sciences: Seven of the world’s top 10 selling medicines are biopharmaceuticals, including the world’s largest selling drug, HUMIRA®  born in Cambridge. Worldwide revenues from biopharmaceuticals rose to $169 billion in 2012 and are forecast to exceed $220 billion in 2017

The US market for applied research and preclinical drug development, the areas in which Abzena operates, is estimated at $9.6–$11.5 billion; the majority of Abzena’s revenues are derived from providing services to US customers.

John Burt said: “We are seeing the clear benefit of having brought together the services and technologies of PolyTherics and Antitope, now established as part of the recently formed Abzena group.

“Our partners in the biopharmaceutical R & D community are seeing the benefit of our enlarged offering and we believe we have established the critical mass necessary to be a sustainable business with significant cash-generating capability.”

Imperial Innovations currently has a 26.2 per cent interest in Abzena before any fund raising. As at January 31, its holding in Abzena was valued at £11.1 million, making it the investment group’s fourth largest portfolio company by value.

Imperial Innovations CEO Russ Cummings said: “Several therapeutic antibody candidates developed using Abzena’s proprietary technology are currently being advanced by its customers through clinical trials.

“As a result of the £13.5m funding round in July 2013 – which we led - Abzena is our fourth largest investment by value.”

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