EQT finds ‘perfect fit’ for new strategy with Mabtech acquisition

The private equity firm aims to grow the Swedish biotech company’s footprint in the US, partner Isabel de Paoli told PE Hub Europe.

EQT has announced the acquisition of Swedish biotech company Mabtech in what partner Isabel de Paoli told PE Hub Europe was a “perfect fit” for the private equity firm’s new Healthcare Growth Strategy. EQT plans to help Mabtech grow its commercial operations and product portfolio and expand internationally, including in the US, de Paoli added.

EQT is acquiring Mabtech from IK Partners’ Small Cap II Fund, which purchased it in December 2019. Several other funds had been interested in the company, PE Hub Europe understands.

EQT’s new strategy focuses on helping “high-growth, innovative companies” scale across the different subsectors of the healthcare markets by using EQT’s experience in healthcare investing, said de Paoli, which tops more than €23 billion over three decades. She joins the Healthcare Growth advisory team from EQT Private Equity and previously was chief strategy officer at German multinational science and technology company Merck.

Mabtech being a “science-driven, market niche leader” with high growth made it a good fit for the strategy, she added.

Healthcare Growth sits between the EQT Private Equity buyout strategy, which includes healthcare as a sector, and EQT Life Sciences venture strategy, the firm told affiliate title Private Equity International.

The deal touches on Healthcare Growth’s understanding of long-term research trends based on its relationship with the EQT Life Science team, which was “critical to be able to evaluate the markets and evaluate the products of Mabtech”, said de Paoli. “But also combining that with the commercial playbooks that we have from the private equity side.”

Expansion

Mabtech provides antibody tools and kits used predominately for vaccine, infectious disease and oncology research and has more than 900 customers, typically research institutes, labs and drug development companies, in over 60 countries. Like EQT, it is headquartered in Stockholm.

The company focuses on providing tools to understand immune responses, which it has worked on since the 1980s. “But since the late ‘90s, particularly through the oncology and the immuno-oncology space but also the increased interest in immunology in general, there has been a significant increase in the use of their tools,” said de Paoli. It is now a market leader in the “fragmented” European market, she noted.

EQT hopes to bring Mabtech’s tools to new markets, scaling its commercial operations and growing geographically. That includes the US, where Mabtech has an office in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“The US is the largest market in the world and certainly one where companies have to have a really good presence to be able to scale,” said de Paoli. “The beauty of the life science tool space is that there is no regulatory process involved. This is really about being very scientific-driven, but also having a very intimate relationship with the customers and driving research use of the product.”

Product push

EQT also aim to help Mabtech expand its product portfolio.

“The core of Mabtech is about producing extremely precise, high-quality reproducible antibody pairs” that can be used in research applications, said de Paoli. “That was the case when they introduced the ELISpot and FluoroSpot tests. With the introduction of that technology and those tests and those kits, they have been a leader in this market.”

The ELISpot and FluoroSpot products allow researchers to study immune responses in areas such as cancer and infectious diseases and for vaccine trials.

“It’s about new applications of the same core technology of these antibody pairs in slightly different types of tests. It’s the same market, but there are new tests and new things that people want to understand in cellular biology.”

The Mabtech acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter, subject to customary conditions and approvals.