Slim pickings for 3i Bioscience

The UK private equity firm has reported just one investment from its life sciences fund in the past 6 months.

The 3i Bioscience Investment Trust has seen a 2 per cent rise in its net asset value over the past six months during a lean time for life science investments which saw the fund make only one investment.

3i Bioscience’s solitary unquoted investment was made via MVM International Life Sciences, which invests in early stage and start-up life science companies. This investment brings the number of unquoted companies in which the trust is invested to 23, with a total value of £19.6m.

Such a low level of investment reflects a broader depression in the life sciences sector. For the six months to 31 March 2002, biotechnology indices have underperformed those for both the main markets and the technology sector. The NASDAQ Biotech Index rose by 4.1 per cent and the Bloomberg UK Biotech Index actually fell by 16.2 per cent, whilst the S&P 500 and FTSE All-Share indices, rose by 10.2 and 9.3 per cent respectively.

Andy Smith of 3i Asset Management, which manages the Bioscience fund, said the results reflected a more general downturn in the bioscience sector, although he added that current values offered very promising opportunities for investors. He added that the sector had seen an increase in fund raising in the capital markets.

The net asset value of the trust currently stands at 401.2p. The two per cent increase was below the benchmark index, which rose 6.3 per cent over the same period.