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Syncona records flat month for NAV in January with small share price rise

Syncona records flat month for NAV in January with small share price rise

UK hybrid biotech investor/fund-of-funds Syncona (SYNC) recorded an essentially flat month for NAV in January, with a small decline overall recorded for its three largest investments  – presumably in part related to the weakening of the dollar – offset by a gain of an equivalent size in the value of its larger fund portfolio. Overall, Syncona’s NAV increased by 0.02% in the month, according to its latest monthly update, while the share price added 2%.

Syncona disclosed a £3.7m rise in value in January for its 42% holding in UK-based but Nasdaq-listed gene therapy specialist Nightstar Therapeutics, having had to record a much larger write down in December. Nightstar had a very successful IPO at $14/share in September with the shares closing at $24/share on the first day, but it has traded down since and the stock is currently c$12/share. Nightstar’s lead programme is NSR-REP1, a gene therapy designed to modify or halt the progression of inherited retinal diseases that would otherwise progress to blindness and for which there are no currently approved treatments. it is being studied for choroideremia, a rare, degenerative, X-linked genetic retinal disorder primarily affecting males.

Syncona also discloses monthly valuations for three investments: Nightstar as well as two private companies, Blue Earth Diagnostics, which is focused on the development of novel PET imaging agents for use in cancer therapy, and Autolus, a second-generation CAR-T therapy firm. Autolus, which is conducting clinical trials of three products: AUTO2 in multiple myeloma, AUTO3 in diffuse large B cell lymphoma and paediatric acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and AUTO4 in T-cell lymphoma, is also being backed by Arix Biosciences and Woodford Patient Capital Trust WPCT.

Syncona was formed from the merger of the former Battle Against Cancer Investment Trust (BACIT), a quoted fund of funds, with the Wellcome Trust’s venture arm. The company has a hybrid investment approach with the remainder of its assets invested in long-only and and alternative investment funds, which is considers to provide an evergreen funding base that will enable it to take a long term approach to investing in life sciences. Syncona also has smaller investments in three early-stage companies as well as the CRT Pioneer Fund (see table below).

Company  % Ownership  Valuation (£m) % of NAV 
Blue Earth Diagnostics 90% 123.1 12.4%
Nightstar Therapeutics 42% 122.1 12.3%
Autolus 38% 84 8.5%
Freeline Therapeutics 74% 31* 3.1%*
CRT Pioneer Fund n/a 24.1* 2.4%*
Gyroscope Therapeutics 72% 7.8* 0.8%*
Achilles Therapeutics 66% 6.6* 0.7%*
Cambridge Epigenetix 12% 5.2* 0.5%*
Total NAV (inc fund holdings)   992.7
Note: Value at 31 January unless indicated by *, where value is at 30/9/17.  * % of NAV calculated by Marten & Co. 

Syncona records flat month for NAV in January with small share price rise

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