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Roivant gets $1.1bn investment from Japan's SoftBank

The fund will launch new subsidiaries, says the biotech

money

Swiss biotech group Roivant has just picked up a massive $1.1bn in equity investment led by the investment arm of Japanese telecoms giant SoftBank - thought to be one of the biggest ever deals of its kind.

Roivant - the holding company for subsidiaries Axovant, Myovant, Dermavant, Enzyvant and just-launched urology specialist Urovant - said the cash injection will be used to launch new subsidiaries "within and beyond the biopharma industry".

One of the new units is to be called Datavant and according to its parent will "dissolve barriers between siloed healthcare datasets in order to unlock novel insights and reduce the time and cost of delivering innovative medicines to patients".

The bulk of the cash is coming from SoftBank's $93bn Vision Fund, which has been ploughing vast sums of money into tech companies but also some life sciences groups such as genetic modification specialist Zymergen and cancer diagnostics firm Guardant Health. Roivant is the first pharma company to be backed by the Japanese fund. The remainder of the latest round comes from existing investors, according to the Swiss biotech.

Roivant - led by CEO Vivek Ramaswamy - focuses on collecting up drug candidates that have been discarded by other companies for commercial reasons, rather than any fundamental problem with the programme, or which could have potential in other as-yet untested indications.

Axovant for example is developing a GSK cast-off for Alzheimer's disease - serotonin 5-HT6 receptor antagonist RVT-101 - through late-stage testing, while Myovant is working on relugolix, a drug for endometriosis and uterine fibroid pain discarded by Takeda outside of Asian markets, which has just cleared a phase II study. Urovant, launched in June, is taking a drug from Merck & Co called vibegron through late-stage development for urinary incontinence.

With GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Pfizer and AstraZeneca all culling their pipelines in recent weeks there could be plenty of scope for new licensing deals.

"We are pleased to welcome the SoftBank Vision Fund as a new investor in Roivant, and we are grateful for the continued support of our existing shareholders," said Ramaswamy, a former hedge fund partner and graduate of Harvard and Yale.

"I admire SoftBank's long-term vision and I believe they will add significant strategic value to Roivant in the next phase of our growth," he added.

Article by
Phil Taylor

10th August 2017

From: Sales

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