Advent Venture Partners, the UK venture capital firm, has successfully exited investments in two European technology companies in deals representing a total consideration of $270 million.
The exits from Upstate Group Inc. and DNA Research Innovations (DRI) through trade sales to US companies will be viewed as success stories in the European venture market, where sizeable disposals of venture-backed companies are less common than in the US.
Upstate Group was acquired by Serologicals Corporation for $205 million in cash and stock in the company. The 1998 vintage fund Advent Private Equity Fund II (APEF II) invested a total of £3 million in Upstate over two investment rounds in December 1998 and June 1999. The exit represents a sterling return of three times the original investment at the time of completion.
Upstate supplies pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, universities and government agencies with tools for use in biological and drug research. These include cell signaling reagents, developed and produced at the company's specially established facility in Dundee, Scotland. The company also operates in five locations in the US and Europe, including Cambridge, UK, Lake Placid, New York, and its headquarters at Charlottesville, Virginia.
DRI was sold to Invitrogen Corporation for a total of $65 million, consisting of a mix of an upfront payment and further payments on the achievement of performance milestones. The company, which is based in Kent, UK, develops and markets products for the purification of DNA and other nucleic acids.
APEF III, a 2000 vintage fund, invested £3 million in the company in December 2002. The fund was both the first and largest institutional shareholder to invest in DRI. Advent says it expects to make a return of three times its original investment after holding its stake for less than two years.
Advent Venture Partners was formed in 1981, making it one of the UK's oldest VC managers. It current manages approximately £400 million, which it uses to make both early and later stage investments in IT and healthcare companies in the UK, Western Europe and the US. It is continuing to invest APEF III, which raised £300 million in five months before closing in February 2001.