Scientists set to scoop £150m in biotech deal: Now Oxford Nanopore joins London listing frenzy
A trio of British scientists are set for a huge payday after their biotech firm unveiled plans for a blockbuster float.
Oxford Nanopore will list its shares in London in the second half of 2021, in one of the most anticipated stock market debuts in years.
The firm is valued at about £2.3billion by a top investor but analysts believe that could easily top £4billion.
Biotech champ: Oxford Nanopore will list its shares in London in the second half of 2021, in one of the most anticipated stock market debuts in years. Analysts believe it could top £4bn
It means founders Gordon Sanghera, Hagan Bayley, 70, and Spike Willcocks, 44, and their families could pocket as much as £150million between them.
Their company specialises in DNA sequencing and has developed a pocket-sized device which could revolutionise healthcare.
Its services have also been in strong demand during the pandemic, as scientists race to detect and track mutations of Covid-19.
The timing and location of the float has been the subject of speculation for years. Sanghera said Oxford Nanopore’s decision pursue an initial public offering (IPO) followed a ‘pivotal year’ when the coronavirus ‘demonstrated the importance of life sciences’.
He said: ‘We believe an IPO is the start of the next phase of our journey. Access to deeper, international pools of capital would support our ambitious growth plans, enhancing our ability to innovate and scale our manufacturing and commercial functions.’
Payday: Founder Gordon Sanghera will pocket £62m
During the Covid crisis, Oxford Nanopore’s technology has been used to identify one fifth of virus genomes by scientists in 85 countries.
It believes its DNA and RNA-tracking technology can be used in a plethora of other areas, including rapid detection of other diseases, virus immunity checks and tumour sequencing.
IP Group, which owns a 15 per cent stake, has implied that Oxford Nanopore has an overall business value of about £2.3billion.
But analysts at Berenberg believe the company could ‘comfortably’ fetch a price tag of £4billion.
That would mean chief executive Sanghera, 60, could see his 1.6 per cent stake valued at more than £62million.
Business development chief Willcocks could make a paper fortune of £34million, and co-founder Hagan Bayley, a professor of biochemistry, £32million.
Bayley’s ex-wife, Orit Braha, is also in line to receive almost £22million, according to filings at Companies House.
The trio started Oxford Nanopore as an Oxford University spinout in 2005. Its technology is based on moving DNA samples through tiny holes – called nanopores – and measuring how they react to electrical currents.
Co-founders: Hagan Bayley, left, will pocket £32m while Spike Willcocks, right, is set for a £34m windfall
It provides rapid gene sequencing services for labs studying infectious diseases, cancer, crops, food and the environment.
Its portable device – Minion – for this type of testing is the size of a smartphone, and removes the need for heavy equipment. It has been used in the field to sequence strains of the Ebola virus, zika and Covid-19.
Disgraced fund manager Neil Woodford was among Oxford Nanopore’s backers before he was ousted from his funds, but investors in his flagship fund will miss out on profits from the listing later this year.
Administrators sold his 12 per cent stake to US firm Acacia for £20.8million last year. Those shares are now thought to be worth at least £80million.
Investor eyes profit
Start-up funder IP Group could net £500million when Oxford Nanopore floats.
The investor, which helps to commercialise ideas coming out of universities, owns a 15 per cent stake it values at about £340.3million, implying Oxford Nanopore is worth about £2.3billion.
Analysts believe the price tag could rise to £4billion, meaning IP Group could be in line for as much as £516million.
IP claims to have helped create more than 300 companies, owning assets worth £1.2billion.
Previous successes including Ceres Power and Hinge Health.