M&G ploughs £35m into Woodford favourite Oxford Nanopore ahead of IPO

The asset manager has bought into the biotech firm, a favourite of disgraced investor Neil Woodford, ahead of its expected stock market listing later this year.

M&G has ploughed £35m into Oxford Nanopore Technologies, the former Neil Woodford favourite that is preparing for one of the largest flotations in London this year.

The DNA sequencing technology start-up has announced plans to list on the London Stock Exchange in 2021, with Jefferies and Berenberg valuing the initial public offering (IPO) at $5.4bn (£3.9bn).

Based on its last financing round more than a year ago, investors latest valuation of the company was £1.9bn, however.

The investment was made by the M&G’s newly-formed Catalyst team that has said it is investing £5bn of the £143bn Prudential With-Profits fund into ‘privately owned innovative enterprises’.

M&G chief investment officer Jack Daniels said the move highlights the role of  institutional investors in funding companies that ‘provide a wider benefit to society’.

He said: ‘The technology developed by Oxford Nanopore is being used in a broad range of scientific research applications, including to further biomedical science, to characterise pathogens in microbiology and public health.’

Oxford Nanopore was a core holding in the unquoted part of disgraced investor Neil Woodford’s failed flagship Equity Income fund but was sold by administrator Link Fund Solutions to US investor Acacia Research last year, alongside a number of other stocks.

This 6% stake in the biotech firm now comprises more than 40% of Woodford’s new venture, the WCM Partners Healthcare Portfolio, through which he said he is advising Acacia on the porfolio it bought from Link.

Investors in Woodford’s former Patient Capital investment trust, now Schroder UK Public Private (SUPP ), are also hoping Nanopoare’s flotation will boost a portfolio recently hit by a string of investment writedowns. Over a fifth of the trust’s assets are held in the unquoted stock.

M&G’s investment comes two months after the Catalyst team pumped another $50m into Vaccitech, the unquoted start-up behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, which is also about to float. 

The asset manager’s Asia equities team also put $35m on behalf of the With-Profits fund in the proposed flotation of Tel Aviv-headquartered Arbe Robotics, a firm that manufactures high-tech parts for automotive vehicles.





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