Oxford Genetics (Oxgene) sells to international life sciences group


Mercia Asset Management, the regionally focused specialist asset manager with £872 million of assets under management, has announced that it has sold Oxford Genetics Limited (Oxgene) to WuXi AppTec, a Chinese provider of R&D- and manufacturing-enabling services in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries.

Oxgene will become a fully-owned subsidiary of WuXi Advanced Therapies (WuXi ATU), WuXi AppTec’s cell and gene therapy contract testing, development and manufacturing organisation (CTDMO) business unit.

Dr. Ryan Cawood, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Oxgene, said: “Oxgene is proud to have invented a range of next-generation platforms that address the complexities of viral vector manufacturing for gene and cell therapies.

“We are excited to join the team at WuXi ATU and to work together to scale up our technologies as a combined business, which will strengthen and broaden our service offerings for customers, improving by orders of magnitude the scale and cost of bringing cell and gene therapies to market.  The benefits will be significant for the industry and for patients worldwide.”

Dr. David Chang, Chief Executive Officer of WuXi AT,added: “We are delighted to welcome Oxgene to WuXi ATU. By combining WuXi ATU’s world-class cell and gene therapy CTDMO platform with Oxgene’s innovative capabilities, we will be able to provide transformative solutions for our customers.  This business combination represents a significant step in our ongoing effort to enable our customers and partners worldwide to deliver more effective and accessible advanced therapies to patients globally.”

Mercia, which held a 32.1 per cent direct holding in Oxgene  will receive £30.7 million, its largest cash exit to date.

The sale has generated a 5x return on Mercia’s direct investment cost of £ 6.1 million.

Mercia first invested in Oxgene in July 2013 through its third-party managed EIS funds and it subsequently became a direct investment in December 2015.

Dr Mark Payton, CEO of Mercia Asset Management PLC, said: “Oxgene is a great business and we are proud of the role Mercia has played, proactively supporting the team from its founding through to this landmark transaction, which will enable the business to continue its pioneering work. The sale of Mercia’s shareholding in Oxgene demonstrates both the power of our regional networks and the strength of our unique Complete Connected Capital model. This exit therefore delivers an excellent result for Oxgene’s founders and employees, our shareholders and our third-party EIS fund investors.”

 The full cash sale of its second largest direct investment will enable the Group to support and expand its direct investment portfolio for the foreseeable future.