Apax acquires majority shareholding in metaGen

With E42m from Apax in the bank, the biotech company will continue to develop new strategies for cancer therapy.

Apax Partners has paid E42m to acquire a majority shareholding in metaGen, a biotechnology company which focuses on gene research, from Schering AG, the pharmaceutical group.

Berlin based metaGen specialises in the diagnosis and therapy of cancer diseases with an emphasis on functional genome analysis. The company has about forty scientists working in a team led by genome researcher André Rosenthal, who contributed to the decoding of chromosome 21. It is the largest spin off of a biotech company from a German pharmaceutical enterprise to date.

Apax Partners Funds will own 50 fifty per cent of the shares in metaGen, whilst 43.5 per cent of the shares will remain in the ownership of Schering AG. metaGen’s management, which participated in the company early on, currently holds 6.5 per cent of the shares. Rosenthal intends to purchase a further 5 per cent from Apax Partners Funds at the current valuation, increasing management’s shares to a total of 11.5 per cent.

The biotech company will change its name to metaGen Pharmaceuticals and will focus on the development of drugs relevant to cancer therapeutics. Rosenthal explained that metaGen underwent outstanding growth and development during its first years with the Schering Group. “In partnership with Apax Partners Funds, we will develop, with consistency and focus, a leading biotech company with an emphasis on cancer therapy. We have established clinical networks and a unique integrated technology platform. We have been working for more than four years in the area of functional genome analysis and are using the results of the human genome project in order to develop new agents and strategies for cancer therapy and diagnosis for the benefit of patients. We are very happy to have found in Apax Partners an experienced and reliable partner,” he said.

metaGen was founded by Schering AG in 1996 to exploit the full potential of genome research for pharmaceutical development.