Blow to City as leading UK biotech firm Immunocore lists in New York

Business

A leading British biotechnology company has revealed plans to float in New York instead of London, dealing a blow to the City’s efforts to secure more business from fledgling sectors.

Oxfordshire-based Immunocore is developing a pioneering type of cancer drug that uses the immune system to fight the disease.

It is seen as one of the UK’s biotech stars and Sir John Bell, the Government’s life sciences tsar, is chairman.

A computer generated image of T cells attacking cancer cells. Oxfordshire-based Immunocore is developing a type of cancer drug that uses the immune system to fight the disease

But instead of floating at home, it has opted to raise $100million through a listing on New York’s Nasdaq exchange.

It comes after software firm Blue Prism, which is listed in London, said the City’s markets were ‘too small’ and suggested it would have to go across the Atlantic as well to raise more cash.

Top investors set to make a paper fortune from Immunocore’s listing include Nick Cross and Iain Lang, the entrepreneurs behind the Milton Park complex near Didcot where the company is based.

Private equity firm General Atlantic, life sciences investor Malin, US pharmaceuticals giant Eli Lilly and asset management firm Schroders are also top shareholders.

Immunocore was founded in 2007 and its technology is based on science first pioneered in Oxford by Bent Jakobsen, a Danish biochemist.

It emerged as one of Europe’s most promising biotechs after raising £250million in a fundraising in 2015, with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pumping in further cash the following year.

Today the company employs nearly 300 people. It reported revenues of £22.7million for the nine months to the end of September 2020, but made a loss of £66.3million for the period.

It did not comment on why it had chosen New York. But its decision is a blow at a time when the Government is trying to establish London’s markets as a hub for innovative and growing industries in the wake of Brexit.