Boston-based life healthcare technology group seeks London IPO

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A Boston-based healthcare technology company whose board includes high-profile business leaders including Chris Viehbacher is to seek $160m in a London stock market flotation.

The initial public offering planned by PureTech Health next month would add to the growing momentum behind life science investment in the UK after a series of recent fundraisings.

PureTech is aiming to join a cluster of companies on the London Stock Exchange whose business model involves investing in a portfolio of early-stage science and technology and helping turn the intellectual property into commercial businesses.

The other examples are IP Group, Allied Minds and Imperial Innovations, which have a collective market capitalisation of more than £3bn.

Daphne Zohar, PureTech’s co-founder and chief executive, said: “We realised the UK was the best place for us because investors understand the model.”

PureTech would be the second US-based life science company to float in London this year after Verseon, a California-based company that uses computer algorithms to discover drugs, raised £66m on the junior Aim exchange this month.

The listing, if successful, would be a coup for London because PureTech’s board includes several prominent figures from the worlds of technology and life sciences — sectors usually dominated by New York’s Nasdaq market.

PureTech is the first venture for Mr Viehbacher after his departure as chief executive of Sanofi, the French drugmaker, last year. Dame Marjorie Scardino, former chief executive of Pearson, owner of the Financial Times, will also join the PureTech board on Tuesday as senior independent director alongside her boardroom roles at Twitter and IAG, owner of British Airways.

Other directors include Joichi Ito, a serial Japanese-American technology entrepreneur and Sony board member, who will be named PureTech’s chairman on Tuesday, and Robert Horvitz, a Nobel laureate for breakthroughs in genetic research.

PureTech has so far invested in 12 companies, all still in the development phase, focused on unconventional approaches to healthcare problems ranging from obesity and hair loss to autism and schizophrenia.

Several of its ventures involve digital technology including computer games to diagnose and treat neurological disorders and the use of voice-monitoring technology to identify changes in a patient’s health.

Ms Zohar said PureTech was especially interested in the convergence of medicine and technology and the arrival of non-traditional players in healthcare — demonstrated by recent investments by Google and Apple in the sector.

“We are looking for different approaches to problems that have not been tried before,” she said. “We screen everything that’s going on, look at what has failed in the past and think what we could do differently.”

An average of 650 technologies are screened each year — mostly from academic sources — by its 50-strong network of expert advisers, with a handful selected for further consideration.

PureTech has raised $250m in past private fundraisings. It has an average 76 per cent ownership of the companies in its portfolio with partners including big groups such as Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Google.

The IPO will involve new shares accounting for at least 25 per cent of the company. Jefferies is acting as global co-ordinator and joint bookrunner together with Peel Hunt.