Aju IB Investment has linked up with overseas venture capital companies to invest in series B financing after reporting a substantial windfall from offloading its stake in U.S. biotechnology business Arvinas.
The company said on Friday (May 29) that it was able to get a return equivalent to about three times the principal in disposing of the investment, which it had held for 18 months. Arvinas is a venture company that develops treatments for diseases such as cancer by utilizing PROTAC, a technology from Yale University professor Craig Crews that is now undergoing clinical trials. The company had a market capitalization of about 2 trillion won ($1.6 billion) as of May.
Aju IB Investment will now focus on B funding, a second round of financing for new firms under which investors put up financing in exchange for equity or partial ownership. It has already led B funding series for biotechnology companies Rallybio Holdings and Hotspot Therapeutics.
Rallybio Holdings, founded by executives of Alexion Pharmaceutics in 2018, specializes in research for treatments of rare diseases. Global investors such as 5AM Ventures, New Leaf Venture Partners, TPG, F-Prime Capital, Viking Capital and Pivotal Bioventure Partners participated in the series B round, which raised total funds of $145 million.
Hotspot Therapeutics, which was established in 2017, is a venture company that focuses on the development of inhibitors against reactions to enzymes or proteins. The series B club deal size was about $65 million (80.5 billion won). S.R. One, Tekla Capital Management, MRL Ventures Fund, Brace Pharma, Atlas Venture and Sofinnova Partners also participated in the deal.
Aju IB Investment opened an office in Boston in 2013 to explore global markets and in July 2019 expanded and reorganized its business into a local corporation called Solasta Ventures. It has invested 130.6 billion won ($105.5 million) in 27 companies since entering the U.S. market.
“We will contribute to securing the international competitiveness of Korean industries by supporting domestic bio-venture companies and pharmaceutical companies’ overseas expansion,” said Kim Ji-won, the company’s CEO. (Reporting by Dong-woo Park)