Venture capitalists surfing on a wave of success

February 24, 2015 ctheodoropulos

With the sale of its stake in Swiss biotech company GlycoVaxyn to British pharma concern GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Sofinnova Partners from France has completed another successful exit. In mid-February, GSK announced that they are scooping up the remaining shares of the vaccine specialist for USD 190 million (EUR 167 million) (click here for more information).

The Paris-based venture capitalists seeded GlycoVaxyn at its inception in 2006, and fueled its growth by remaining the largest shareholder to date. The VC play also helped to bring other top-tier investors into the ETH Zurich spin-off, and contributed to consolidating the leadership through the hiring of Philippe Dro as CEO.

“As a historical investor, Sofinnova Partners has proved its capacity to act as a genuine value-added VC with a long term approach. From the seed funding until today, as the largest shareholder, it actively contributed to our growth,” Dro said in a press release. Sofinnova also mentioned that the GlycoVaxyn-GSK deal was its fourteenth trade sale or IPO in a 24-month period. Over the last five years, Sofinnova Partners has generated exits and public offerings totaling USD 6.5 billion in enterprise value.


For the European venture capital community this is good news in the run-up to this year’s BIO Europe Spring®, which opens on March 9 in Paris. Antoine Papiernik, a managing partner of Sofinnova Partners, will moderate the opening plenary session. The buoyant IPO market which started two years ago in the US, and is now spilling over to Europe according to a BIOCOM report, is certain to be one of the conference’s topics.

The most recent public offering of a Sofinnova-backed company took place in January this year: Danish Ascendis Pharma successfully raised USD 108 million (EUR 95.5 million) by selling 6 million shares at USD 18 (EUR 16 million) through an NASDAQ IPO.

Another two Sofinnova portfolio companies went public in the US last year: Dutch drug developer ProQR therapeutics made its market debut with a USD 76 million IPO in September and French DBV Technologies, which has been listed in Paris since 2012, raised USD 93 million with an US IPO in October. Pierre-Henri Benhamou, Co-Founder and CEO of DBV, will be one of the panelists at BIO-Europe Spring and report on his experiences with the capital market.

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