It shows the strength in depth of the Cambridge UK business, science & technology cluster when even a $31 billion Japanese swoop for your greatest ever tech company is put in the shade.
The cream of the crop in a record-busting August was also engineered in the Far East – this time made in China – as the China National Chemical Corporation’s $43bn takeover of crop protection business Syngenta finally cleared its largest regulatory hurdle.
It is the largest ever foreign acquisition by a Chinese corporation and was finally sanctioned by the powerful Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. Syngenta has major operations in Cambridge and employs 106 staff at Capital Park.
So, discounting the ARM shareholders’ ratification of SoftBank’s offer – which we included in the July total when both boards agreed the deal – August deals in the Cambridge cluster reached $46.11bn.
That took the accumulative haul in the 41 months of Business Weekly’s Cambridge Deals Digest to $184.03bn – sending the monthly average to a record high of $4.5bn.
There was a nice footnote to the ARM deal when the company awarded local construction firm Kier Group the $63 million contract to expand the superchip architect’s Cambridge headquarters. The HQ upgrade is part of a move to more than double ARM’s UK headcount over the next five years.
As evidence that there remains a Cambridge conveyor belt of new-generation talent bubbling away nicely beneath the hierarchy, Cambridge Innovation Capital raised $83.47m of new cash to invest in the cream of innovation being generated locally.
ARM, the official investment body of the Sultanate of Oman and the much-vaunted Woodford Investment Fund were among new investors in the oversubscribed placing.
CIC, which is headed up by Victor Christou, provides long-term capital to support the sustained growth of investee companies and has already established an unrivalled position within the Cambridge cluster. To date, it has committed around £33m to 13 companies in the rapidly-growing technology and healthcare sectors.
The new funds raised will be used to provide additional investment to CIC’s current portfolio, to invest in new opportunities created at the University of Cambridge and within the Cambridge Cluster and to expand the CIC team to allow the company to capitalise on its strong inflow of new investment opportunities.
A globally successful business community needs investment in infrastructure and received a timely boost in that regard. Investment in Cambridge rail station as well as better and faster trains and services linking the key trade corridors of Norwich, Cambridge, Stansted and London were at the heart of a multimillion upgrade unveiled by Abellio – confirmed as operator of the new East Anglian rail franchise. The investment is expected to comfortably top $120m.
Biopharma business F-star kept the flag flying high for the cluster’s burgeoning life science sector when it revealed that it may have given birth to a bouncing new $billion baby – F-star Gamma.
The Babraham Research Campus medical technology pioneer struck a deal with US company Denali Therapeutics – based in South San Francisco – which promises a potentially huge payback. The agreement involves the development of bispecific antibodies that can both cross the blood-brain barrier as well as bind to specific targets in the Central Nervous System.
Denali will make an upfront payment to F-star of $6 million. Denali also has the option to acquire F-star Gamma – F-star’s latest asset centric vehicle – prior to the initiation of the first Phase 1 clinical trial in return for aggregate exercise and milestone payments to the F-star Gamma shareholders of up to $450m in total.
If Denali does not exercise the option, it has the right to license a number of mAb² based on each Fcab generated by F-star Gamma in return for licence fees, development, regulatory and commercial milestones payments with a potential aggregate value of $1 billion and tiered royalties on product sales.
The life science segment received another significant boost as Google and GSK teamed up to launch a new $795.72m transatlantic business to be steered simultaneously from the East of England biotech heartland and San Francisco.
The enterprise was created by GSK and Google parent Alphabet’s life sciences unit Verily Life Sciences. On the manufacturing front, inkjet printing pioneer Domino invested $24.86m on a new factory in Changshu, China.
Around 40 business deals whose values were officially undisclosed were estimated to collectively be worth $375m based on respective market caps and turnovers. Property and construction transactions were valued at circa $335m as the sector continued to defy a Brexit backlash.
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