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Japanese telecom giant injects $1.1bn into Swiss biotech in largest-ever investment of its kind

Published on 10/08/17 at 12:18pm

In possibly the biggest single biotech investment ever made, Swiss biotech firm Roivant has received a $1.1 billion cash injection thanks to an investment from Japanese telecom giant SoftBank.

At only three years old, Roivant is relatively new on the biotech scene, and operates via a range of its subsidiaries to pick up abandoned drugs from other companies’ pipelines and develops them to completion and commercialisation, either in the field for which it was originally intended or by reappropriating it for a new purpose.

“Once we take over those drugs, the same cultural attributes that allowed us to focus on specific drugs rather than general therapeutic categories allow us to focus on the process by which those drugs can be accelerated to the finish line,” explained Roivant CEO Vivek Ramaswamy. “They’re not spending any more money on it, they don’t have to dilute corporate focus, and they can participate in the upside with us in the form of royalties or other arrangements. Many of them are motivated by the idea that the work they put in has the potential to help patients. It’d be a shame for it to go to waste.”

This new sum of money, which is primarily sourced from SoftBank’s Vision Fund, will reportedly be channelled into setting up new subsidiaries within bipharma and beyond. Though the Japanese firm has a dense and dynamic history of investments across a range of industries, Roivant is the first pharma company to catch its eye.

"We are pleased to welcome the SoftBank Vision Fund as a new investor in Roivant, and we are grateful for the continued support of our existing shareholders," added Ramaswamy. "I admire SoftBank's long-term vision and I believe they will add significant strategic value to Roivant in the next phase of our growth," he added.

Matt Fellows

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