Unlisted Woodford darling receives £50m injection

California pharma giant invests in Oxford Nanopore

A Neil Woodford-owned DNA sequencing company has received a multi-million pound cash injection from a Nasdaq-listed bio-pharmaceutical company headquartered in California.

Amgen, the seventh largest biotech firm in the US, has agreed to purchase £50m worth of ordinary shares in the Woodford holding Oxford Nanopore, according to a RNS announcement put out by the investment company on Thursday afternoon.

Oxford Nanopore is the third-largest holding in the star manager’s trust at 8.09% of the portfolio.

This is the second round of major financing the group has been able to secure this year. In March it received £100m in fundraising from a group of global investors, which included Singaporean capital markets group GIC and China Construction Bank International.

Shares in Oxford Nanopore will be issued at the same price they were during the previous fundraise.

Patient Capital success story

Woodford has touted Oxford Nanopore as one of the great success stories in his Patient Capital Trust. It is one of five unlisted companies he owns in the portfolio that is currently valued above the $1bn mark.

He has been investing in the company since July 2015 and currently holds a 4.9% stake worth £73.1m in his £694m investment trust.

The star manager also owns a significant stake in IP Group, the parent company that owns Oxford Nanopore. He owns 18% of the business, making him the second largest shareholder behind Invesco Perpetual which owns 30% of the business via Mark Barnett’s UK equity income funds previously run by Woodford.

IP Group owns an 18.3% stake in Oxford Nanopore, valued at £274.1m.

DNA sequencer tackles outbreaks

Oxford Nanopore is the creator of portable DNA/RNA sequencer, MinION, which has been used in the labs and in the field for such things as sequencing human and crop genomes and tracking pathogen outbreaks like the Zika and Ebola viruses in real-time.

Amgen said in a statement that investing in Oxford Nanopore aligns with its strategic focus on using human genetics to deliver new medicines to patients.

IP chief executive Alan Aubrey added it was encouraging to hear how a “world leader” like Amgen was harnessing Oxford Nanopore’s technology.

“This investment is a tremendous validation of nanopore sequencing and reflects the significant progress that has been made by Oxford Nanopore over the last year,” he said. 

IP Group’s shares were up 1.09% at 111p after the news broke on Thursday afternoon.

Patient Capital Trust’s shares were up 0.12% at 84p. Year-to-date the trust’s share price has fallen around 8%.

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