Report: Abingworth tees up $330M-plus to bankroll biotech bets

Life sciences venture outfit Abingworth is creeping up on a close for its sixth fund, according to Dow Jones Venturewire, reportedly outstripping its goal of $330 million as it stocks up for another round of investments.

After more than a year of courting limited partners, the London-headquartered outfit is days away from a final signature that would wrap up an oversubscribed fund, Venturewire reports, and a successful close would put it among at least 7 biotech backers debuting new funds in the last 12 months.

Abingworth's latest raise comes on the heels of a $590 million fund closed in 2008, which Abingworth put toward IPO success stories Dicerna Pharmaceuticals ($DRNA) and Clovis Oncology ($CLVS), Big Pharma buyout targets Algeta and Avila Therapeutics, and promising medical device outfits Lombard Medical and Sonitus Medical, among others.

The company has invested more than $1 billion through 9 raises and more than 40 years in business, and Abingworth's earliest bets include late-'80s investments in future stars Gilead Sciences ($GILD), Alkermes ($ALKS) and the pre-merger Idec Pharmaceuticals. The outfit also operates Abingworth BioEquities, an open-ended fund dedicated to publicly traded biotechs.

Abingworth joins a bevy of other biotech VC mainstays piling up cash for another round of investments, including Clarus Ventures, which revealed plans this month to put together a $375 million third fund. Early-stage backer 5AM Ventures revealed a $250 million second fund in December, joining Frazier Healthcare, which closed a $377 million purse in October, and VC giant OrbiMed, which launched a $735 million fund a month later. Big-namers NovaQuest, Third Rock and Atlas also debuted funds last year, totaling more than $1 billion.

Meanwhile, as the IPO boom continues to drive up biotech valuations, the industry is in the midst of a venture resurgence. With rollicking public markets come better odds of exits and more willing limited partners, a confluence of factors that helped biotech VC funding leap to $4.5 billion last year, beating 2012's $4.2 billion.

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