Esprit Capital Partners hires Merlin Biosciences founder

Esprit Capital Partners has appointed venture capital firm Peter Keen as partner in the firm’s first big hire since the firm’s creation in the merger of Cazenove Private Equity and Prelude Ventures this summer.

Esprit Capital Partners, a European technology venture capital firms, has appointed Peter Keen, Merlin Biosciences’s co-founder as a partner. 

Keen, who left Merlin 2004, will be responsible for the Esprit’s financial and fund raising activity, and will support its investment activity, particularly in the healthcare sector. 

Keen co-founded the life sciences venture capital firm Merlin Biosciences in 1996, where he was UK managing director until early 2003. 

More recently, he was chief financial officer of Arakis, a subsidiary of Sosei, a Japanese bio-pharmaceutical company, where he led a refinancing and successful £106 million trade sale, having been responsible at Merlin in 2000 for the original seed investment.  
 
Keen is a director of Ark Therapeutics Group, a healthcare group, which focuses on cancer therapy; Abcam, an antibodies supplier; and the Finsbury Emerging Biotechnology Trust; an investor in biotechnology companies.  He is also an advisor to Imperial Innovations Group, the technology transfer arm of Imperial College London.

Yesterday Esprit backed Lastminute.com founder Brent Hoberman in an $11 million funding of Where Are You Now?, a travel and lifestyle social network.

Esprit Capital Partners was created by the merger of the Prelude Ventures and Cazenove Private Equity teams in June 2006.  The firm has $500 million of assets under management.