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Novartis Venture Fund to expand role in 2006 in supporting pharmaceutical start-up companies


Basel, January 16, 2006 - The cVenture Fund, a significant investor in health care companies in the Basel area as well as worldwide, begins 2006 with significantly improved liquidity and a balanced investment portfolio.

For the first time ever, the Novartis Venture Fund achieved in 2005 a positive ratio of “exits” - the successful divestitures of businesses that it has supported - to new investments. Since its creation in 1997, the Fund has provided support to nearly 140 new companies. It now has a balanced range of investments in firms at all stages of the start-up business cycle, from new investments through to stock market flotations or acquisitions.

“The Novartis Venture Fund has firmly established itself as a leading participant in the Swiss venture capital scene,” said Dr. Daniel Vasella, Chairman and CEO of Novartis. “The recent strong business performance by the Fund has positioned itself more than ever to fulfill its role as a catalyst for helping young companies developing novel medicines.”

The Novartis Venture Fund plays an important role in supporting start-ups in the tri-national BioValley area based around Basel. At the end of 2005, the portfolio of the Fund included investments in 62 private companies.

Among the highlights of 2005 were the initial public offerings of Speedel, Glycart and Transform Pharmaceuticals. Share holdings were also sold in Eyetech Pharmaceuticals, Idenix Pharmaceuticals and Theravance.

Thanks largely to these transactions, liquidity increased significantly, reaching approximately USD 190 million at the end of 2005. The Novartis Venture Fund is now well positioned to provide further support to its most promising portfolio companies and to make new investments.

In 2005, the Novartis Venture Fund committed a total of USD 16 million in funding. Slightly more than half went to new investments, while the remainder was used to provide further support for existing members of its portfolio.

“One of our key success factors is the experienced management team, comprised of experts with the ability to evaluate qualitatively the innovativeness of a project, the solidity of the business plan and business model, as well as the managerial competencies of the entrepreneurs” said Dr. François L’Eplattenier, Chairman of the Novartis Venture Fund.

With US investments increasing in both relevance and number, the Novartis Venture Fund has set up a new office in Boston that is close to the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR) headquarters in Boston, which is also a key center for the US biotechnology industry.

About Novartis
Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS) is a world leader in pharmaceuticals and consumer health. In 2004, the Group’s businesses achieved net sales of USD 28.2 billion and pro forma net income of USD 5.6 billion. The Group invested approximately USD 4.1 billion in R&D. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ about 91,000 people and operate in over 140 countries around the world.

For further information please consult

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The Activity Report of the Novartis Venture Fund, which summarizes the activities of the Fund and presents profiles of its portfolio companies, can be downloaded from the Novartis Venture Fund website


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