Ex-Elan execs target €325M IPO for life science fund

Former Elan CEO Kelly Martin and other people with links to the Irish drugmaker are aiming to raise up to €325 million ($364 million) in an IPO to bankroll their life science investment fund. The IPO on the Irish Stock Exchange could dwarf last year's listing by Circassia (LON:CIR) and become one of the biggest floats in European biotech history.

Martin has set up the fund--called Malin--with fellow former Elan executives and board members Bob Ingram, Kieran McGowan and John Given, plus a handful of other notable names from the Irish business community. Their plan is ambitious. Malin is aiming to raise between €275 million and €325 million from investors, some of whom have already committed "a substantial proportion" of the sum. The fund--which has offices in Dublin, New Haven, CT, and Durham, NC--will use the money to invest in developers of drugs, medical devices and diagnostics.

Kelly Martin

Malin has already struck provisional investment deals with 7 companies, including Kymab, the Cambridge, U.K.-based monoclonal antibody developer that pulled in $40 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust last year. Malin has earmarked €100 million--plus a further €120 million in follow-on money--to invest in the businesses. The geographic spread of the companies--plus the locations of Malin's offices--show it isn't going to be limited by location. Most of the targets are headquartered outside Europe, including Viamet Pharmaceuticals.

Research Triangle Park, NC-based Viamet was due to go public last year, only to drop its plans and accept $60 million from Brandon Point and other investors. Brandon Point was founded by Martin last year and is listed as owning 98% of the issued share capital in Malin ahead of the IPO. The venture flew under the radar until it joined with Neil Woodford's fund to back Viamet late last year. Malin looks set to make a bigger splash, and not only because of Martin's tendency to act as a magnet to controversy. If Malin can pull off the headline-grabbing IPO, it will be set up to strike a string of deals.

The 7 lined up so far fit in with Malin's objective of taking majority or significant minority stakes in companies with post-investment values of up to $250 million. Some of the assets might be flipped fairly quickly in IPOs, while others are longer-term prospects. "Over the years, all of us have seen too many times where the science has been fantastic but the commercial impact has underwhelmed because scientists are not best placed to judge the best time to monetise," Malin CEO Adrian Howd told Reuters.

- read the Reuters article
- check out the IPO filing

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