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Syncona net asset value falls, co-founder steps down

By Josh White

Date: Thursday 16 Nov 2023

Syncona net asset value falls, co-founder steps down

(Sharecast News) - Life science specialist Syncona reported a net asset value of £1.2bn at the end of its first half on Thursday, down from £1.25bn on 31 March, with a net asset value return of -4.2% during the period.
The FTSE 250 company said its life science portfolio's value stood at £620.9m, down 7% in the same period, primarily due to a write-off of £56.4m related to Gyroscope milestone payments.

However, that loss was partly offset by gains in Autolus Therapeutics' valuation and favourable foreign exchange movements.

Syncona's capital pool at the end of September totalled £580.4m, with £58.6m deployed during the period.

The firm's portfolio was maturing, with 71% of its value in clinical-stage life science companies, including seven clinical-stage firms, two of which are in the late stage.

Syncona said it was focussed on allocating capital towards clinical assets and anticipated deploying £150m to £200m into the portfolio and pipeline by the end of the financial year.

Syncona's board said it had launched a share buyback programme of up to £40m to enhance shareholder value.

The board believed the company's share price represented a compelling investment opportunity.

Syncona said it was actively managing its portfolio by working with companies to achieve critical milestones, optimising budgets, refining investment focus in cell therapy and gene therapy, and exploring new sources of finance.

The company was poised to capitalise on market opportunities by assessing potential investments in attractively-price clinical assets.

"Against challenging market conditions, which impact cost and access to capital, we continue to focus our capital allocation on clinical opportunities across the portfolio, with 71% of portfolio company value now in clinical stage assets," said Chris Hollowood, chief executive officer of Syncona Investment Management.

"In parallel, we are proactively managing the portfolio to ensure that our companies with clinical data have a path forward to reach late-stage clinical development, where we believe significant value can be accessed.

"We will continue to prioritise capital allocation towards our most promising companies and assets, which we believe is the optimal approach to maximising value across the portfolio and delivering strong risk-adjusted returns to shareholders."

Hollowood said there were six value inflexion points over the next 12 to 36 months that had the potential to drive significant value, adding that Syncona was funded to support its portfolio companies in delivering key milestones.

"Looking forward, the team continues to see a rich pipeline of innovative science around which we can build the next generation of biotech leaders, deliver transformational impact for patients, provide sustainable growth and execute on our long-term strategy.

"We are well positioned to emerge from the current environment and deliver strong-risk-adjusted returns for shareholders and demonstrate progress towards our goal to scale to £5 billion of net assets by 2032."

The expansion of Syncona's senior team, with Roel Bulthuis joining as managing partner and head of investments and John Tsai as executive partner, would bring significant experience to support portfolio companies as they scaled, the board explained.

It said its focus on team expansion and an evolved operating model aimed to achieve its goal of reaching a £5bn net asset value target by 2032.

In a separate announcement, Syncona said co-founder Martin Murphy was stepping down as chair of Syncona Investment Management, with Chris Hollowood taking on the role of interim chair and CEO.

Murphy would continue to represent Syncona on the boards of Autolus, Anaveon, and Clade.

At 1014 GMT, shares in Syncona were down 2.81% at 131.2p.

Reporting by Josh White for Sharecast.com.

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