Activity declines for second consecutive month in the run-up to Christmas

The traditionally quieter holiday period has resulted in a decline in both volume and value of angel investment deals targeting Western European companies for the second consecutive month in December 2019, according to Zephyr, the M&A database published by Bureau van Dijk.

In all, there were 22 such transactions worth a combined EUR 118 million announced during the month under review, compared to the EUR 347 million injected across 35 deals in November, while October 2019 saw 52 angel injections with an aggregate value of EUR 545 million signed off. Although we are used to seeing something of a decline in the last month of the year, the result is also down on December 2018’s 44 deals worth EUR 197 million.

The lack of a very high value deal has suppressed value considerably in December as no transaction even broke the EUR 20 million-barrier. The largest of all was worth EUR 18.03 million and took the form of a seed funding round as French 3D camera and smart monitoring technology manufacturer Outsight secured investment from Demeter Partners, Societe Anonyme De Participations et de Gestion SPDG, BNP Paribas, Faurecia Ventures, Safran Corporate Ventures and Mr Eric Carreel. This was closely followed by a EUR 17.53 million Series A injection in UK-based insurance brokerage Cuvva by ru-Net, Breega Capital and Digital Horizon, as well as angels Dominic Burke and Faisal Galaria, among others.

Companies in a wide variety of sectors were targeted by angels during the month under review, with oncology treatments manufacturing, revenue-based finance service provision and cybersecurity companies among those to benefit from their interest in December to date. In addition to these and the usual software injections, there was one deal in a slightly different segment which piqued the interest this month and it featured a UK target.

The transaction in question was again a round of seed funding. Gene modification research and development company Pencil Biosciences secured EUR 590,000 from Midven, through the UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund, Catapult Venture Managers, via the GM&C Life Sciences Fund, and angel investor Jonathan Milner. Proceeds of the injection have been earmarked for helping the firm reach its goal of developing innovative gene modulation technology which could provide new therapeutic options for patients with rare diseases, among other potential applications. Executive chair Jon Moore said the investment will fund the Alderley Park-headquartered company into early 2021.

Companies providing research and development services in the physical, engineering and life sciences sector have been targeted fairly frequently by angel investors in the last few years. Zephyr shows 667 such transactions have been announced worldwide since the beginning of 2009. The most valuable of these closed in August 2018, when US tissue-led small molecule regeneration therapeutics player Samumed secured EUR 562.24 million from unspecified angels, sovereign wealth funds and family offices. This was followed by a deal from earlier this year; in July, US ultra-high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces developer Neuralink brought in EUR 140.30 million from tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, among others. Other companies in the physical, engineering and life sciences research and development field to have been targeted by angels in the last 11 years include Recursion Pharmaceuticals, CureVac and Joby Aviation.

In conclusion, although it is disappointing to note that December’s results represent a decline on last month, it is worth noting that this is often the case in the final month of a year as dealmakers begin their holidays over the Christmas period. Nevertheless, the presence of some sizable injections and a wide range of sectors being targeted will be encouraging for those watching the markets.

© Zephyr

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