Life sciences and technology investor Imperial Innovations (IVO:AIM) is shrugging off the fragile market for new listings by preparing portfolio company Abzena for an initial public offering (IPO). Formerly known as PolyTherics, Abzena provides therapeutic antibodies and proteins to help companies make better drugs through reducing side effects or improving efficacy.


Web - Imperial Innovations - 16 June 2014


Abzena claims it is targeting a research and pre-clinical drug development market in the US worth up to $11.5 billion annually. However the company has a long way to go to control this market with its sales totalling £5.8 million last year, although there is no hint on how much of this was converted into profit. These are early days in the IPO process and a price target for Abzena’s debut is yet to be set, although Imperial’s 26.2% stake was valued at £11.1 million in January.


Despite disappointing debuts by holidays-to-insurance provider Saga (SAGA) and online white goods retailer AO World (AO.) in the past few months, Imperial perhaps hopes to repeat the success of another portfolio company Circassia (CIR), which went public earlier this year (13 Mar). The allergy specialist became the first biotech to list on London’s main market for years, raising £200 million at float, ahead of its original £175 million target.


Web - Circassia - 19 June 2014


Driving Abzena’s IPO is the need to invest in the development which could see it attract new licensing agreements and expertise. Imperial’s chief executive officer (CEO) Russ Cummings says the potential IPO is a sign that Abzena's portfolio is maturing. Abzena could be the fourth investment realised this year by Imperial, which specialises in backing companies spun out from the laboratories of Oxford and Cambridge universities as well as Imperial College.

Issue Date: 16 Jun 2014