Oct 2, 2017

Roivant ups bet on Arbutus, after Axovant failure

Arbutus Biopharma, a Canadian developer of hepatitis B virus therapies, has agreed to a US$116 million investment from Roivant Sciences, the Swiss biotech company led by former hedge fund Vivek Ramaswamy. Roviant already held a 29.1% equity stake in Arbutus, which had a market cap of around $340 million as of Friday's market close.

Why it matters: Because Roivant really needs a win, less than two months after securing a $1.1 billion investment led by SoftBank Vision Fund. A publicly-traded subsidiary called Axovant Sciences — which issued the largest biotech IPO of all time — last week learned that its lead Alzheimer's drug candidate doesn't work, which sent its shares down from $24.25 to just $6.26 in a single day of trading.

Go deeper: "This is not one of Ramaswamy's classic plays. His whole strategy centers on rescuing clinical-stage assets languishing in the pipelines of the world's biggest biopharma companies and putting them through an efficient late-stage effort, ramping up new drug products better than any of the majors. His first effort at that, with a 5HT6 Alzheimer's drug, proved a complete failure." -- John Carroll, Endpoint

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