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European Biopharmaceutical Review

Alternative Funding

Whilst it is not just bioscience companies who have felt the effects of the recent difficult market conditions, the biotech sector has certainly been one of the hardest hit. It is reported that the UK’s 47 biotechnology stocks as a whole underperformed the FTSE all-share index by approximately 36 per cent in 2007, and of those 38 suffered drops in market capitalisation.

Even before the credit crunch hit, CEOs of biotechnology companies had reason to feel hard done by, with successful drug development and commercial progress not being reflected in their share price performance. Recent events have served to exacerbate this problem – companies who struck big licensing deals at the start of 2007 such as Oxford BioMedica have found the share price gains they saw as a consequence of positive newsflow have been completely negated.

Companies who have suffered setbacks with their drugs under development have fared even worse – suffering as a consequence of both negative media depiction and general market conditions. Vernalis was one of the most dramatic examples of this, having seen its share price fall almost 90 per cent on the back of some negative news flow on one of its key products.


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Gavin Weir is a Partner in the life sciences group at Simmons & Simmons and advises on a broad range of corporate finance, including international and domestic M&A, public and private takeovers, capital markets and corporate governance. He has particular experience in the life sciences and financial institution sectors, where he has advised a number of clients on IPOs, mergers, acquisitions, fundraisings and joint ventures. His clients include UK and international biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, university spin-outs, investment banks and funds. Recent work includes advising Piper Jaffray in its role as financial adviser on Vectura Group’s £130m recommended merger with Innovata, and on Vectura’s £45m fundraising.

Isabella Roberts joined Simmons & Simmons in 1997 and became a Partner in 2008. She has experience of a wide range of corporate work, in particular M&A and equity capital markets work, with a particular emphasis on the life sciences sector. Recent work includes acting for Sinclair Pharma plc on its admission to the Official List and Euronext, and for Piper Jaffray as financial adviser to Vectura in connection with its merger with Innovata.

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