Swiss Investors Going Direct: family offices and high net worth investors avoiding funds

“The Biotech VC Fund industry has been put to a standstill in Europe. There have been no new funds of significant scope raised in Europe the past three years, except from the fiscally-denominated Retail French FCPI and F-ISF” according to Swiss investor Hervé de Kergrohen, a medical doctor who has been active as a financer for emerging biotech and medical technology companies in the region since 2001.  “Switzerland is a special place. There is a lot of money from around the world here, including Russia and the Middle East, that is looking for investments. In my experience there is still a great deal of money sitting on the sidelines looking for returns.”

But Kergrohen notes there is a major move away from funds by family offices to a desire for direct control of investments themselves. He also notes that the investors are looking for investments that fit their special needs. They are not, indeed, “mandated” to invest in any specific technologies and their horizons are much shorter than VC funds. They are just looking for bargains with quick exits in this depressed market for venture investing. In their asset allocation, there still is a place for private equity and innovation, but not through funds. As they do not possess internal expertise on Biotech or Medtech investing, they welcome the quality of the deal flow that GlenBrook selects for them. They also mandate GlenBrook to follow their investments after the initial transaction in order to monitor growth and ensure a timely exit.

Hervé de Kergrohen, who recently formed  GlenBrook Ventures, an investment company that picks out the diamonds from around the world, will be joining the advisory board of the OneMedForum New York.

“The idea of this Trans-Atlantic conference is very unique and makes good sense. Increasingly in a global market, connectivity between Europe and the US is important,” according to Kergrohen.  “Communications is making the world smaller and for many investors geography is less important.”

Hervé de Kergrohen’s experience is considerable.  He founded the BioData a Geneva Conference in 2001 that has attracted as many as 300-400 attendees to this annual event.  “Herve brings an exceptional list of European investors we hope will join us in New York ”  said Jon Garfield, a co-chair of the conference advisory board who recruited Herve, adding “we are looking to recruit well regarded and well known investors from Europe, although Ultra-High-Net-Worth-Individuals usually do not appear themselves and are sometimes represented by their personal advisors.”  Kergrohen joins an already distinguished group of Europeans that have signed on. Other notables who have recently joined include Klaas de Boer from the Entrepreneurs Fund in England, Marco Elser from Advicorp in Rome and Financier Pietro Strada also from England. See full list of advisors.

Glenbrook Ventures has secured mandates, either from large private equity investors, or from selected biopharma and medical technology companies. GlenBrook raises 2 to 15 million dollars per deal.  It intends to continue to conclude 3 to 4 deals per year, in early- as well as late-stage projects. Advisors to GlenBrook are senior executives from the Health Care Industry able to commit of their own funds and offer their network to attractive projects. —Brett Johnson

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