UK investment group drops six per cent

Prelude Trust saw six per cent fall from its value for the six months ended 30 September 2001. The company’s net asset value was £63.6m compared with £67.7m.

The drop has been attributed to a fall in share price of the company’s three quoted holdings – CeNeS Pharmaceuticals, nCipher and Oxford BioMedica. However the value of the company’s investments in 14 unquoted companies rose to £37m from £25m at 31 March 2001, in part because of £8m of new investments the company made.

Some companies are finding it more difficult to raise finance and some valuations have reduced, said David Wansbrough, chairman of Prelude. He maintained however that strong companies still continue to attract investors. “And encouragingly, where the Trust’s portfolio companies have raised further finance, this has been on terms that support or increase the valuation of its shareholdings,” he said.

Prelude, which focuses on early-stage technology and life sciences businesses, injected £4.1m in four new companies. It committed £1.8m into Alphamosaic, a semiconductor company developing low power processors for use in video application in particular mobile phones, and £1.1m into Iceni Biodiscovery, which is developing technology for the treatment of insulin dependent diabetes. The remainder went to the firm’s existing portfolio members, which increased the value of De Novo Pharmaceuticals, ZBD displays and Zylepsis.