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Almi Invest comments on its exit in Lipum


Almi Invest comments on its exit in Lipum

1 December, 2021

Lipum recently announced that Flerie Invest has acquired all of Almi Invest’s shares and warrants in Lipum. Almi Invest was Lipum’s first investor when they made a seed investment of 2.5 MSEK in 2016. Since then, Lipum has made significant progress in its preclinical drug development and has been listed on Nasdaq First North Growth Market. To find out more about Lipum’s journey, BioStock contacted Mattias Eriksson, Investment Manager at Almi Invest.

Lipum is developing the drug candidate SOL-116, which has a novel mechanism of action for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases. The candidate is an antibody that blocks a protein called Bile Salt-Stimulated Lipase (BSSL), a key player in the inflammatory process.

Lipum has presented promising preclinical data with SOL-116 for the treatment of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The company is now conducting toxicology and safety studies, as well as GMP manufacturing of the candidate, prior to the start of clinical trials in 2022.

Flerie Invest new major shareholder

Lipum recently announced that the investment company Flerie Invest has acquired all of Almi Invest’s shares and warrants in the company. The renowned Flerie Invest is based in Stockholm and London and invests in growth stage companies in drug development and biotechnology. The company was founded in 2010 by Thomas Eldered, former CEO and co-founder of Recipharm.

After the acquisition of Almi Invest’s shares, their ownership amounts to approximately 9.4 per cent of votes and capital in Lipum. Since Flerie Invest is now a major shareholder in Lipum, they will be part of the company’s Nomination Committee with Carl-Johan Spak as representative. Thereby Lipum’s Nomination Committee consists of four members: co-founder Olle Hernell, Adam Dahlberg, Carl-Johan Spak and Chairman of the Board Ulf Björklund.

Almi Invest has been involved since 2016

In 2016, Almi Invest invested 2.5 MSEK in Lipum. The capital was used for the recruitment of key employees and continued product development. Since then, they have provided organisational support and participated in Lipum’s capital raisings. In connection with Lipum’s listing on Nasdaq First North Growth Market in April 2021, Almi Invest made a commitment for a lock-up for six months, but at the same time declared that they normally liquidate listed holdings.

Mattias Eriksson, Investment Manager Almi Invest

Interview with Investment Manager at Almi Invest

Almi Invest invests in Tech, Life Science, Industry and Cleantech start-ups and has over 350 companies in its portfolio. The firm has now divested its shares in Lipum to Flerie Invest. BioStock contacted Mattias Eriksson from Almi Invest to find out more about the decision and his view of Lipum’s potential. 

Could you tell us a little bit about Almi Invest and your role in the company?

– Almi Invest, together with private investors, invests equity in unlisted growth companies in Sweden. By investing in early phase where the risk is high, we contribute to the companies’ development and later also their ability to attract, for example, institutional investors. We are an active owner that works together with founders and other investors to attract the necessary expertise to the companies, create a structure in the Board, attract additional capital, etc. A considerable proportion of Almi Invest’s portfolio is companies within Life science, and we see it as an important sector to operate in.

– I work as an Investment Manager, which means that I am looking for new, interesting companies to invest in, I am actively working with our portfolio companies, and I work in the exit phase with the sale of companies or Almi Invest’s shares in the companies as has been the case with Lipum.

Why did Almi Invest choose to invest in Lipum?

– Already at our first investment, Lipum had solid research results supporting their hypothesis that inflammatory diseases could be treated by blocking the protein BSSL. BSSL is a completely new target for drug treatment and can thus potentially help patients who do not have sufficient effect or who have troublesome side effects from existing drugs. This, combined with the founders’ extensive knowledge of BSSL, led us to invest in Lipum. We considered that our initial investment would be important for the company’s development and their ability to attract necessary future financing. 

»Already at our first investment, Lipum had solid research results supporting their hypothesis that inflammatory diseases could be treated by blocking the protein BSSL.«

Already at our first investment, Lipum had solid research results supporting their hypothesis that inflammatory diseases could be treated by blocking the protein BSSL

How would you describe Lipum’s journey from 2016, when you invested in the company for the first time, to 2021?

– After our investment, a new external CEO (Einar Pontén) and a new external Chairman of the Board (Ulf Björklund) were hired. This duo has been very important in taking Lipum from a research project to a “real company” and for securing funding in the company. The company has also benefited greatly from the business support from Umeå Biotech Incubator and the invaluable help from SciLifeLab in developing the antibody now called SOL-116, which the company plans to enter into the first human trial within 2022.

– In recent years, the company has worked intensively with setting up a quality-assured production of SOL-116 and, most recently, the toxicity and safety studies, which are needed before the first clinical study.

– In addition to all the private investors who have contributed to Lipum’s financing so far, the company has also managed to receive a larger contribution (23 MSEK) from the EU Horizon 2020 programme, which has enabled the company to accelerate its product development.

Why have you chosen to let Flerie Invest acquire your shares and warrants in Lipum?

– Almi Invest’s mission is to invest in and develop unlisted companies. When one of our portfolio companies chooses to list on a regulated market, such as Nasdaq First North, we have “played out our role.” We then sell off our shareholding in the company, in a responsible manner, of course, and taking into account any agreed lock-up period during which we should not sell our shares. By selling our shares, we free up capital that we can invest in new unlisted companies.

How do you see the new major owner Flerie Invest? 

– We see Flerie Invest as an ideal buyer of our shares. They have knowledge of the industry, experience of building successful companies and are long-term investors.

»We see Flerie Invest as an ideal buyer of our shares.«

How do you view Lipum’s future potential?

– Lipum is a company with very great potential if their drug shows good efficacy and safety in humans. However, as in all companies developing drugs, there is also a significant risk. For the sake of patients and shareholders, I hope that the upcoming clinical studies will be successful!

The content of BioStock’s news and analyses is independent but the work of BioStock is to a certain degree financed by life science companies. The above article concerns a company from which BioStock has received financing.

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