VC deal makes 16 times cost

3i and SEB Företagsinvest are selling Swedish vaccine distributor SBL Vaccines to Dutch biotechnology company Crucell for €39.4 million, generating an approximate 16 times return of the vendors’ investment.

3i, a venture capital and private equity company, and SEB Företagsinvest, the Nordic venture capital arm of private bank SEB, are selling Swedish vaccine distributor SBL Vaccines, to NASDAQ listed Dutch biotechnology company Crucell, for €39.4 million ($51 million).

Dukoral: SBL Vaccine’s core product is available in over 50 countries

Crucell will also raise €80 million through the issue of new ordinary shares. This will fund the SBL Vaccines acquisition, refinance the acquisition of vaccine company Berna Products Corporation in October, and repay the debt of Swiss vaccine manufacturer Berna Biotech, which Crucell bought in February 2006.

3i and SEB Företagsinvest bought SBL Vaccines from California-based Chiron Vaccines in May 2004 for an undisclosed sum.  A source close to the deal said 3i and SEB Företagsinvest would generate an IRR of approximately 16 times their investment.

Swedish lawyers Mannheimer&Swartling are advising 3i and SEB Företagsinvest.  ABN AMRO Rothschild is acting as the sole lead manager and book runner for Crucell.

Thomas Pollare, partner, 3i Nordic, told PrivateEquityOnline: “SBL was in a challenging position when we bought from Chiron. It was making losses of Skr175 million (€19 million; $25 million) and needed to be turned around.  Together with management we reorganised and improved production efficiency and transformed SBL to a profitable business. Now is the right time to sell SBL to Crucell.”

This deal will provide a welcome boost to 3i’s venture capital arm, which is being hit by the fall in the share price of two of its investments.

An interim report published this month showed that CSR, a UK electronics business, and Vonage, a US broadband telephony company, have fallen £38.5 million in value.  Both remain, however, successful investments with the group reporting internal rates of return for Vonage of 39 percent and for CSR of 59 percent.

SBL Vaccines sells vaccines and niche pharmaceuticals. The company’s core product is Dukoral, a cholera vaccine. Dukoral is available in more than 50 countries worldwide.  SBL generated approximately €25.2 million in revenues in 2005.

Crucell is a biotechnology company focused on researching and selling vaccines and antibodies.  Crucell’s headquarters are in the Netherlands, with subsidiaries in Switzerland, Spain, Italy and Korea.