KBC Launches Biotech Fund –

BRUSSELS, Belgium – KBC, the Belgian bank, opened subscriptions early last month to its first private equity fund focused on the worldwide biotech sector. The closed-end vehicle will be listed on the First Market of Euronext in Brussels once the first closing has taken place, which is expected on March 12. The subscription price is EURO15 per share ($14).

The Asset Management and Securities divisions of KBC are launching the fund, known as KBC Private Equity Fund Biotech. The financial management of the fund will be led by Youri Amerjckx with Ruth Devenyns, who is head of KBC’s sciences group, providing information and advice.

According to research carried out by KBC, 368 (or 14%) of the total of 2,600 biotech companies worldwide are quoted. In the U.S., that proportion is about 30%. In Europe, which has seen a biotech boom in recent years, with the creation of around 800 new companies between 1996 and 1999, the percentage of quoted biotech companies is almost 5%.

KBC also found that 64 biotech companies floated on the stock market during the latter half of 1999 and 2000, as a rule, an average increase of 176% between the time of the last private investment and the initial public offering. This sample was taken over an average period of eight and a half months.