EuroBiotech Report: A-list backers pump £45M into COPD player with Nasdaq aspirations

Map of Europe

Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. Our top stories this week come from the U.K., where a tumultuous week for biotechs added to tensions in the run-up to the Brexit vote. First, to the positive news. Verona Pharma picked up £45 million ($66 million) from a syndicate of investors including New Enterprise Associates and OrbiMed to fund COPD clinical trials. Fellow British biopharma Circassia had less to celebrate after a misstep in its clinical trial program wiped 66% of its stock price. And, having added to his stake the day before the data drop, the fallout from the flop had implications for Neil Woodford. Across the Irish sea in Dublin, Malin, another of Woodford’s investments, secured €70 million to funnel into European life science firms. Our other two stories come from the Nordic region, where Denmark’s Novo A/S unveiled Kasim Kutay as the person to oversee its $57 billion portfolio and a pair of oncology players raised $29 million. And more. Nick Taylor

1. Verona raises £45M from A-list backers for PhIIb COPD trial, plans Nasdaq listing

Verona Pharma (LON:VRP) has secured £44.7 million ($65.6 million) from big-name investors on both sides of the Atlantic. The cash will enable Verona to deliver Phase IIb data on its PDE3/PDE4 inhibitor RPL554 in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), while also broadening its clinical trial program and working toward a listing on Nasdaq.

2. Circassia sinks as key allergy drug fails PhIII, pipeline under pressure

One of the jewels in the U.K. biotech crown became a lot duller today as Circassia (LON:CIR) saw its shares fall 64% by 12 pm BST after its key allergy drug failed to best placebo.

3. Woodford upped his stake in Circassia days before trial flop

On June 17, Neil Woodford bought up another tranche of shares in Circassia (LON:CIR), a company that has come to represent an increasingly big bet for the veteran fund manager over the past year. The transaction moved Woodford’s stake in the company past the 20% mark. The next business day, Circassia posted Phase III trial data that caused its stock price to crash.

4. Kelly Martin’s Malin secures €70M to invest in EU biotechs

Malin (ISE:MLC) has secured €70 million ($79 million) to invest in European life science companies. The fresh funding will enable the Kelly Martin-helmed organization to step up its investment activity, which slowed to a crawl 10 months ago when it finished doling out the €330 million it raised in its March 2015 IPO.

5. After ousting former CEO, Novo A/S puts Kutay in charge of $57B investment vehicle

Novo A/S has named Kasim Kutay as its CEO four months after parting company with former leader Eivind Kolding. The appointment puts Kutay, a healthcare banking veteran, in charge of an investment vehicle that lists a 27% stake in Novo Nordisk ($NVO) among its DKK 377 billion ($57 billion) portfolio of assets.

6. Nordic drugmakers raise $29M to expand cancer clinical trial programs

A pair of Nordic drugmakers has raised a combined $29 million (€26 million) to advance and expand their respective cancer trials. Midphase renal cancer and melanoma player Immunicum (STO:IMMU) accounted for SEK 128 million ($15.5 million) of the money, while Targovax lined up NOK 110 million ($13.3 million) to invest in its immuno-oncology trial program.

And more articles of note>>