Abingworth raises Europe’s biggest biotech fund

The fund attracted so much interest the firm decided to limit its capacity to the final total, which it will now invest in biotechnology and medical companies across Europe and the US. It will target companies operating in technologies, therapeutics and medical devices, from early-stage private deals to listed businesses. The typical size of investment will range from just over €11m to just over €30m per company. ABV V aims to make over 20 venture investments.

Dr Stephen Bunting, the managing director of the London-headquartered firm, said: “This has been a tremendous response and we are delighted with the quality of investors we have been able to attract. We believe the fund raising was helped by several factors including Abingworth’s lengthy track record, the strength of the team and our transatlantic presence with offices in London, Cambridge (UK), Menlo Park (California) and Boston.”

Investors in ABV V include Quartilium, the fund-of-funds arm of French investor Finama Private Equity, and the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System – which invested around €30.4m.

In regards to the geographical spread of LPs, 47% are based in the US, 33% in Continental Europe, 12% in the UK and 8% from the rest of the world. Fund-of-funds make up 44% of the investors, government and corporate pension funds 36%, endowments, foundations and universities 10%, and insurance companies and other financial institutions also10%.

The fund took two months to raise €337m at a first closing in December, assisted by global placement agent, MVision Private Equity Advisers. SJ Berwin acted as UK legal advisers and Proskauer Rose acted as US legal advisers.

The €455m raised beats the previous record holder in the venture biotech space, SEP III, which raised €238m in October last year. In fact, ABV V beats the previous record for a VC fund across all sectors, with Sofinnova, the French high-tech and biotech investor, claiming the previous watermark back in February 2005 when they raised €385m.

This is the seventh venture fund that Abingworth has raised since its founding in 1973. ABV IV was launched in May 2003 with a €212m target, eventually closing on around €270m in August that year. It is almost fully invested, with two exits to date: PowderMed (acquired by Pfizer) and Alexza (went public on Nasdaq).