Ponoi Capital secures $15 mln from Texas County & District for debut

  • Ponoi led by managing partners for Column Group
  • New fund targeting $150 mln
  • Texas County & District PE portfolio valued at $3.1 bln

Ponoi Capital, a new investment fund led by the managing partners of Column Group, secured a major commitment from Texas County & District Retirement System for its $150 million fund.

Texas County & District put the new fund 10 percent of the way toward its target with a $15 million commitment that closed on June 27, the retirement system’s website says.

Ponoi Capital shares a management team with Column Group, but it’s unclear whether the fund is connected to Column Group’s strategy of investing in early-stage drug companies. Both are led by David Goeddel, Tim Kutzkey and Peter Svennilson.

All three partners did not respond to requests for comment.

Rather than investing in drugs that are on the verge of being acquired or developed by major pharmaceutical companies, Column Group invests in broad portfolios of early-stage companies capable of producing more than one product.

Previous portfolio companies include Flexus Biosciences, which was acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb for $800 million, with another $450 million in possible payments should the company hit certain post-acquisition milestones. Seragon Pharmaceuticals was acquired in a similar deal by Genentech for $725 million, with another $1 billion in contingent milestone payments.

Texas County & District committed $30 million to Column Group’s third fund, which held a final close on $535 million last year.

The $27 billion retirement system held a little more than 11 percent of its assets in PE as of March 31. The private equity portfolio was netting a 6.6 percent 10-year annualized return as of that date.

Action Item: More about Texas CDRS: www.tcdrs.org