Exclusive: India Life Sciences Fund backs drug distributor in new pharma bet

India Life Sciences Fund II, which is advised by InvAscent India, has struck a new deal in the pharmaceuticals sector to take its total number of investments to 12, two people familiar with the development told VCCircle.

The healthcare-focussed private equity fund has invested around $10 million (Rs 68 crore) in Alniche Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd for a minority stake, the two people said on the condition of anonymity. They didn’t specify the size of the stake.

An email sent to InvAscent and Alniche did not elicit response till the time of filing this article.

New Delhi-based Alniche was founded by Girish Arora in 2007. It is a sales and marketing company focussed on select therapeutic areas such as nephrology, critical care and dermatology.

Nephrology was the core on which the company was built while dermatology is a recent addition, one of the persons cited above said.

The company has partnerships with global pharmaceuticals companies such as South Korea-based Dongkook and US-based Mastix LLC, according to its website.

New-age pharmaceuticals firms specialising in select therapeutic fields have been attracting private equity interest in recent years.

Earlier this year, private equity firm ChrysCapital bought a significant minority stake in Curatio, which makes prescription-based dermatology products, for $20 million. This followed a $15.8 million investment by Sequoia Capital in 2014.

Last year, Tata Capital Healthcare Fund struck two back-to-back pharmaceuticals deals. It invested in Konverge Healthcare Pvt. Ltd, which operates in the domestic formulations segment with a focus on therapeutic categories such as gynaecology, orthopaedics, neutraceuticals and lifestyle; and Brinton Pharmaceuticals, which offers clinical and cosmetic dermatology formulations.

India Life Sciences Fund II investments
The latest deal has shored up the fund’s pharmaceuticals portfolio as it comes after three quick bets in the sector last year.

Early in 2017, the fund invested in Hyderabad-based specialty generic pharmaceuticals company Aizant Drug Research Solutions Pvt. Ltd and complex active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturer Enaltec Labs Pvt. Ltd.

This was followed by an investment in Stericon Pharma Pvt. Ltd, which specialises in making sterile multipurpose contact lens cleaning solutions and eye drops, for a significant minority stake.

Its other portfolio firms include medical devices makers Comprehensive Prosthetics & Orthotics and Relisys Medical Devices Ltd; and hospital firm Sunshine Hospitals.

Earlier this year, VCCircle reported that the PE firm had hit the first close for the India Life Sciences Fund III at $150 million in December last year and the second close at $210 million in January this year.

India Life Sciences Fund II had raised Rs 875 crore ($146 million then) in September 2014.

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