Bessemer to exit three firms for $1.25bn

The New York-based venture firm will profit from sales of portfolio companies to GlaxoSmithKline, Sony and Apple.

Bessemer Venture Capital will sell three portfolio companies for a total of $1.25 billion (€788 million), according to a blog post from Bessemer partner David Cowan.

Pharmaceutical and healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to acquire Bessemer-funded start-up Sirtris Pharmeceuticals for approximately $720 million. The Massachusetts-based company is focussed on the research and development of drugs related to sirtuins, a recently-discovered class of enzymes believed to be involved in the ageing process.

The company will be acquired through a cash tender offer of $22.50 per share, with the deal expected to close in the second quarter of 2008, GlaxoSmithKline said in a statement. The pharmaceutical giant said intends to retain all Sirtris employees and continue the drug development process. Chris Gabrieli and Steve Kraus led the investment for Bessemer, Cowan said.

Meanwhile, Sony has agreed to acquire Bessemer- and Sequoia Capital-funded digital technology company Gracenote for approximately $260 million.

The Emeryville, California-based business will continue operating separately with its existing management team in place while developing new technologies. The transaction is expected to close in May, Sony said in a statement. Cowan indicated that Bessemer's Jeremy Levine led the firm's investment in Gracenote, whose music database allows electronic devices like iPods and CD players to display information about songs.

And fabless microprocessor company PA Semi, back by Bessemer, Venrock, Highland Capital and Focus Ventures, has agreed to be acquired by Apple. The deal is valued at approximately $278 million in cash, according to a Forbes report that cited unnamed sources. Cowan said Rob Chandra led Bessemer's Series A investment in the company, with help Devesh Garg, Umesh Padval and Derrick Lee.

It is unclear exactly what type of return on investment the sales represent for Bessemer, which could not be reached for comment.

Bessemer, based in New York, is led by Robert Goodman. The firm was originally founded in 1911 as an investment vehicle for the Phipps family. Its latest fund, which closed on $1 billion in August 2007, was its first to include outside limited partners.