Sir Chris Evans buys £600k ReNeuron stake

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SIR Chris Evans, hailed as “Europe’s most-succesful biotech investor”, has bought a £600,000 stake in life sciences outfit ReNeuron, which uses hospitals in Dundee and Glasgow for its stem cell clinical trials.

Evans, who made his name turning Chroscience into a $1 billion (£640 million) business, is taking a seat on the Aim-quoted company’s board as a non-executive director.

Details emerged yesterday of Evans’ purchase, which was made as part of last month’s £25.4m share placing. The placing was accompanied by some £7.8m in grants from the Welsh government, which Evans helped to negotiate in return for ReNeuron moving from Guilford in Surrey to Wales and building a manufacturing plant.

ReNeuron was founded in 1997 and floated at the height of the biotech bubble in 2000, valued at some £60m.

Merlin Biosciences, a venture capital fund launched by Evans, took ReNeuron private in 2003, before returning the firm to Aim in 2005. Ayrshire tycoon Sir Tom Hunter took a 20 per cent stake in Merlin in 2006.

During last month’s share placing, Evans also brought on board investors including Abingworth, Invesco and Tosca, as well as the £100m Wales Life Sciences Fund, which is managed by Arthurian Life Sciences, where Evans is chairman.

Evans said: “I have been intimately involved with the creation and development of this company for the past 13 years.

“I am very confident in investing my own and my family’s money in this company and I am delighted my management teams have also individually invested in these shares alongside some of the world’s most-successful biotech investors, such as Neil Woodford of Invesco.”

Shares in ReNeuron rose 7.4 per cent or 0.25p to 3.65p.