Arthurian Life Sciences Limited, manager of the new £100m Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund, has arranged a £12.8m funding commitment from the Welsh Government to enable ReNeuron PLC (AIM: RENE) to relocate to Wales and continue to grow the unique stem cell R&D, clinical trials and manufacturing base of the company. The funding package is made up of £5m direct equity investment from the Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund and a £7.8m commitment of non-dilutive grants from the Government.
This investment has formed the cornerstone of a total fundraising of £33.2m for the Company in which several other leading, expert international life sciences investors, hedge funds and Venture capitalists including Invesco and Abingworth, have joined Arthurian as part of this landmark fundraising.
Stem cells are one of the most exciting fields in medical science today given their potential to regenerate and repair damaged or diseased tissue. After many years in development, a number of therapies are now either available or in the clinic. Over many years, ReNeuron has led the way with the development of its CTX cell line.
Arthurian Chairman Professor Sir Chris Evans orchestrated a highly innovative plan structure to bring to Wales a listed English company with unique, world-leading technology, secure sufficient financial support from leading institutional investors to enable it to progress several of its products to a value inflexion point, making this a very attractive investment indeed for Wales and for the Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund. The non-dilutive nature of the Welsh grant monies towards all of ReNeurons future growth also make this move to Wales a very attractive benefit to the Company and all its shareholders.
Sir Chris originated the plan by making a very compelling proposition to the CEO and Board of ReNeuron to create a state of the art human stem cell R&D and Manufacturing infrastructure for ReNeuron in Wales to be underpinned by £7.8m of Welsh government grants and £5m equity investment from the £100m Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund. As well as the £12.8m financial package from Wales, Port-Talbot born Sir Chris will join the board and bring his extensive range of skills and international networks to the future growth of ReNeuron.
Once the board of ReNeuron had committed to the Welsh plan put forward by Sir Chris , the Arthurian Investment Committee Chaired by former Rothschilds biotech veteran Jeremy Curnock Cook and the Welsh Government’s Life Sciences team under Business Minister Edwina Hart, were able to complete extensive due diligence and commit their combined £12.8m package in a matter of weeks.
Lord John Hutton, a Board member of Arthurian commented: “I was incredibly impressed by the creativity, speed and rigour of the Arthurian investment managers and delighted to see them working in excellent partnership with the Welsh Government’s own expert due diligence team to complete such a complex and substantial transaction in a matter of weeks”.
On the back of this initiative and cornerstone investment, Sir Chris was able to assist in securing substantial co- investment from some of the world’s largest specialist investors including Invesco where Pharma and Medical focussed funds managed by CIO Neil Woodford are some of the most successful in the sector, along with hedge funds and leading VC firms such as Abingworth Partners. This then enabled the company and its advisers to attract over £27 million of interest within one week against an original target of £15 million. The company was able to capitalise on the momentum begun by Arthurian to complete an over-subscribed fundraising in a fraction of the anticipated time.
Sir Chris Evans commented:
“Among the hundreds of deals Arthurian has screened as it seeks investments for the Wales Life Sciences Fund, this is one of the most exciting and hugely significant transactions for both Wales and the future of medicine.
This transaction represents the sort of exciting and innovative deal and investment that will become the hallmark of this Arthurian investment strategy for Wales. The underlining theme throughout all that Arthurian does is to seek out exciting, high quality international life science businesses and assemble bespoke, but substantial, funding packages that will use Wales as a base, using the Fund, reputable specialist co- investors and the Welsh Government itself . These packages will consist of equity investment, non-dilutive grants, very competitive loans and other infrastructural financial incentives to give businesses the best possible growth prospects as they launch their international activities from their Welsh base.”
Minister for Business Economy Transport and Science Edwina Hart commented:
“I am delighted by the news that ReNeuron has decided to move to Wales. ReNeuron is the first company in the world to have been granted permission to run clinical trials of ground-breaking stem cell technology to treat patients with stroke, one of the top three causes of death and a leading cause of adult disability in Wales.
Cardiff University has always been one of the leading centres in the UK for both stem cell and neuroscience research, strengthened in June this year with the opening of the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics and the appointment of Professor Yves Barde to the Sêr Cymru Research Chair in Neurobiology.
This is the second investment made by the Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund, a key component in our strategy to support the growth of the life sciences sector in Wales- one of our key priority sectors with the potential to make a significant contribution to the Welsh economy.
Finally I am delighted with the speed and professionalism of Sir Chris and his Arthurian Board at securing this excellent opportunity for Wales. It is exactly the sort of exciting new activity we outlined at BioWales in our Vision for growing Wales’ Life Sciences sector over the next decade.”