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Arix Bioscience upbeat on prospects after making "encouraging progress" last year

The net asset value, which is closely monitored by the market, was £270mln, or £2 a share, a rise of 48p from a year ago. The stock closed Wednesday at 144p
woman at a microscope
Arix invests in the biotech and life sciences sectors and now has 17 innovative young companies in its portfolio

Arix Bioscience PLC (LON:ARIX) shares rose on Thursday after the group said it is well positioned for further growth as it unveiled a heavy-hitting new independent director alongside full-year results.

The new appointment first: Corporate financier Mark Breuer, who spent the last two decades with JP Morgan, will join the audit committee when he officially takes on his non-executive role on April 25, replacing Meghan FitzGerald.

WATCH: Arix Bioscience acquires stake in novel firm developing sickle cell treatment

He joins a company that made significant headway last year, investing in the early-stage biotech and life sciences businesses.

Four Arix firms crossed the Rubicon to list on NASDAQ; while businesses it invested in raised £421mln (US$555mln).

Arix invests in disruptive growth companies with the potential to significantly increase in worth as they progress through clinical trials and conduct financing rounds at higher valuations.

As at the end of last year, the gross portfolio was worth £175mln, up from £54mln. The net asset value, which is closely monitored by the market, was £270mln, or 200p a share, a rise of 48p from a year ago. In late afternoon trading, Arix Bioscience shares were 3.5% higher 149p.

Arix also revealed a net £70mln upward revaluation of the portfolio, primarily driven by investments core portfolio firms Autolus Therapeutics, LogicBio, and Harpoon Therapeutics.

Strong young portfolio

Chief executive Joe Anderson said: “This performance is an early sign, I believe, of the potential in our business and the strength of the young portfolio we have built.”

A glance of the balance sheet reveals Arix had just over £91mln in un-invested cash or equivalents after raising £87mln in new capital a year ago.

In 2018, it ploughed £52mln into its portfolio, which now numbers 17 “innovative young companies”, while a further £16mln has been deployed so far this year. The company recently co-led a Series-B funding round for Imara, which is focused on sickle cell disease, and which brought in £48mln (US$63mln), as well as seeing investee company Harpoon list on NASDAQ, raising £61.5mln.

Looking ahead, investee companies have 26 clinical trials underway, with 19 expected to provide a clinical read-out. In other words, there are 19 potential value inflection points for Arix.

“We are well positioned for further growth and investment in 2019 and look forward to the year ahead with confidence and optimism,” said CEO Anderson.

 -- Adds share price --

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