Evans plans float of investment trust

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Chris Evans, the whirling dervish of the biotechnology world, yesterday announced the flotation of his fourth company, Reabourne Merlin Life Sciences Investment Trust, to be valued at around pounds 30m.

RMLIT, which published its pathfinder prospectus yesterday, will invest in life science companies in the UK and Europe.

Mr Evans, who also founded quoted groups Celsis, Chiroscience and Toad and Merlin Fund which specialises in taking private biotechs to flotation, said: "This is the first exclusively European life sciences trust. We at Merlin are working with Finsbury and Reabourne. If anyone is able to make wise investment decisions we are."

Mr Evans said that RMLIT gave him and his team at Merlin an opportunity to offer their knowledge of the quoted sector to larger institutions. "Though my strength is in unquoted companies, I have experience across the industry which is going to waste," said Mr Evans, who will be a principal adviser in the trust. He added that the trust had to be publicly floated because it would be difficult to attract large institutional funds into an unquoted vehicle.

Other directors include John Sclater, chairman of RMLIT and also at Foreign & Colonial, and Anthony Townsend, chairman of Rea Brothers and a director at Reabourne, a joint venture with Finsbury Asset Management.

At least three quarters of the placing proceeds will be invested in quoted life science companies, with a fifth committed to Mr Evans' Merlin Fund. The placing price has been set at 100p a share and dealings will begin on 23 June.

Separately, directors at Galen, which also published its pathfinder prospectus yesterday, and Irish academia will be quids in when the 30- year-old drug development to services group floats on the UK stock market in July valued at pounds 180m. The company is coming to the main market in a placing and is raising around pounds 30m of fresh money.

Allen McClay, Galen's chairman whose 33 per cent personal stake could be worth pounds 60m, plans to donate 6 per cent of the group's existing share capital to a charitable trust to fund research at his alma mater, the Queen's University of Belfast.

The new trust will sell around 1 per cent of the ordinary shares to provide initial funds for research at the University's Schools of Chemistry and Pharmacy. Other Galen directors also stand to gain. The 20 per cent stake of John King, chief executive, could be worth around pounds 36m and Geoffrey Elliot, finance director will own just under 10 per cent.

Mr King said: "We are different from anything that exists in the sector today. We are profitable and have always funded our needs from internal cash flow. This will add to our own funds."

Galen's activities range from developing prescription medicines to providing drug companies with services such as clinical trial supplies. Dealings will begin in mid July.