Novartis's planned $100 million purchase of flesh-eating-bug fighter Protez Pharmaceuticals, of Malvern, promises a big payday for several Philadelphia-area venture capital firms. Novartis could raise the total to as much as $400 million if Protez's products perform as promised. Deal info here.
The state of Pennsylvania helped finance Protez -- but two funds that run the people's money aren't yet providing an estimate of the public payout, which they'll presumably plow into other Pennsylvania start-ups, after paying the private contractors and others who handle public funds.
State-funded BioAdvance Ventures, Conshohocken, and Ben Franklin Technology Parthers (SEPA), Philadelphia, along with Ira Lubert's Quaker BioVentures, Philadelphia, which also runs state money; SR One, Conshohocken; Robin Hood Ventures, Wayne; Birchmere Investors, Pittsburgh; L-Capital Partners, New York and Tel Aviv; BTGplc, London; and Easton Capital Investment Group, New York and Coral Gables, invested a total of $23 million in the company since 2004, according to Protez.
So what's the payoff? BTG says it will collect $5 million on its $800,000 investment in Protez, with another $15 million if Protez meets Novartis's targets. 2008 payout here; 2004 investment here.
Investors have different time and fee schedules; payout ratios vary. What's Pennsylvania's share?
BioAdvance spokeswoman Ellen Sample said her fund had put $650,000 into Protez. According to BioAdvance's annual report, BioAdvance owned Protez stock worth $3 million, in an account managed by Quaker BioVentures, at the end of 2007.
So what's the bump from the Novartis deal? "We'll know more about what BioAdvance will get this summer," Semple said. Ben Franklin spokesman Jaron Rhodes was also in the dark. He said his fund's $300,000 investment in Protez was also "converted into equity," but he had no estimate for its value in the days following Novartis's (and BTG's) announcement.
Why should British investors get more information than Pennsylvania taxpayers? We'll keep asking.