Sofinnova head heralds strength of French life sciences

As the Paris-based venture firm rings out the old year with another exit – its third to break the $500m mark during 2009 – managing partner Denis Lucquin hails ‘the depth of French life sciences innovation’.

Sofinnova Partners, the Paris-headquartered venture capital firm, wrapped up 2009 with its third major trade sale in the life sciences sector.

The sale of pharmaceutical portfolio company Novexel to trade giant AstraZeneca will net Sofinnova a total cash consideration of $505 million, including earn out payments of $75 million, the firm said in a statement.

The exit follows two significant realisations during 2009. In February the firm recorded the largest exit of its 35-year history with the sale of medical device company CoreValve to trade buyer Medtronic for $700 million plus additional milestone payments.

In October the sale of Fovea Pharmaceuticals – worth up to €370 million if earnings milestones are met – to healthcare conglomerate Sanofi-Aventis netted Sofinnova 6.6 times its investment in the business, according to market sources.

“Even in a troubled worldwide environment, pharmaceutical and medical device industries make strengthening their product pipeline a high priority,” said Denis Lucquin, managing partner of Sofinnova and a board member of Novexel.

“After the sales of CoreValve, founded in France, and of Fovea, based in Paris, the sale of Novexel is additional testimony to the depth of French life sciences innovation and its potential impact across borders,” he said, adding that the exits hint that investing in unmet clinical needs can lead to financial success regardless of the financial environment.

These realisations should aid Sofinnova’s fundraising efforts. The firm is currently raising its sixth fund, for which it is targeting €300 million. Market sources say the firm has so far corralled more than €250 million.