BML to launch biotech fund

Former Rothschild life sciences head Jeremy Curnock Cook is planning to raise E150m to invest in European life science companies.

Bioscience Managers (BML), the UK-based life sciences boutique, has unveiled plans to raise a private equity fund targeting consolidation in Europe’s mid-stage life sciences sector. The fund, BML BioEquity I, is seeking up to E150m.

 

BML is headed by Jeremy Curnock Cook, former head of the life sciences private equity team at Rothschild Asset Management, and counts Michael Forer and Jonathan Hepple, former RAM executives, as partners.

 

‘We see a tremendous investment opportunity in the mid-stage company segment of the life sciences sector where there is an expanding gap between traditional venture capital and the public markets,’ said Curnock Cook, the firm’s executive chairman.

 

The six-partner business is expected to use half the funds to acquire stakes in biotech companies and the balance to bring about sector consolidation, according to a report in The Financial Times. ‘This is particularly true in Europe where there are now more life science companies than in the USA and a larger number of these companies are maturing into the mid-stage and needing finance,’ said Curnock Cook.

 

The firm is close to finalising an agreement for sponsorship with a leading UK asset management company that would provide an initial E10m-E15m. BML is also planning to make investments in early stage biotech companies in the UK.

 

Curnock Cook spent 13 years managing investment trusts at RAM before leaving the firm amid allegations he had taken inappropriate options to buy equity in companies that the trusts were investing in.

 

During his time at RAM, Curnock Cook’s investment trusts performed well. International Biotechnology Trust, the largest of his biotechnology-focused vehicles which is now run by Schroder Ventures Life Science, generated a return on investment of over 200 per cent in the five years preceding his departure.