• Monday, May 23, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

British Covid scientists to get millions as Oxford Nanopore plans for stock market float

Dr Gordon Sanghera

By: Pramod Thomas

BRITISH Covid scientists-Gordon Sanghera, Hagan Bayley and Spike Willcocks-are set to rake in millions after Oxford Nanopore, a biotech firm founded by them, unveiled plans for a £2.3 billion stock market float.

They could pocket up to £150 million between them if the company exceeds its predicted value, reported The Daily Mail.

Oxford Nanopore helped to sequence the virus that causes Covid-19 and was awarded a £113 million government testing contract last year.

The firm is valued at about £2.3bn by a top investor but analysts believe that could easily top £4bn. It needs to hit £2.3 billion for its three founders to see their payouts, the newspaper report added.

Business development chief Willcocks, 44, could make a paper fortune of £34m, and co-founder biochemistry professor Bayley, 70, could see £32m, The Daily Mail report said. Sanghera, 60, could see his 1.6 per cent stake valued at more than £62m. Prof Bayley’s ex-wife, Orit Braha, will receive almost £22million, according to filings at Companies House.

During the Covid crisis, Oxford Nanopore’s technology has been used to identify one fifth of virus genomes by scientists in 85 countries.

The firm – which employs around 500 people in Britain – believes its DNA and RNA-tracking technology can be used in a plethora of other areas, including rapid detection of other diseases, virus immunity checks and tumour sequencing.

IP Group, which owns a 15 per cent stake in Oxford Nanopore, has implied the firm has an overall business value of about £2.3bn.

Oxford Nanopore is headquartered in Oxford Science Park and has offices in Shanghai, Beijing and San Francisco.

“We believe an IPO is the start of the next phase of our journey. Access to deeper, international pools of capital would support our ambitious growth plans, enhancing our ability to innovate and scale our manufacturing and commercial functions,” said Sanghera.

According to reports, the  company’s technology is based on moving DNA samples through tiny holes – called nanopores – and measuring how they react to electrical currents.

It provides rapid gene sequencing services for labs studying infectious diseases, cancer, crops, food and the environment.

Its portable device – Minion – for this type of testing is the size of a smartphone, and removes the need for heavy equipment. It has been used in the field to sequence strains of the Ebola virus, zika and Covid-19.

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