VenGrowth Asset Management Inc.

VenGrowth Asset Management Inc.

November 26, 2009 14:05 ET

VenGrowth Advanced Life Sciences Fund Moves to an Annual Distribution Policy and Ceases Weekly Redemptions to Preserve Shareholder Value

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 26, 2009) - The Board of Directors' of The VenGrowth Advanced Life Sciences Fund Inc. ('the Fund') announces that they have approved a change in how shareholders will receive a return of their investment. Investors will now receive funds through an annual distribution of the surplus proceeds from the disposition of portfolio companies, rather than through weekly redemptions.

In light of extended adverse exit market conditions for private portfolio companies, the Board of Directors of the Fund has determined that it is in the best interest of shareholders to halt redemptions and adopt an annual distribution policy, effective immediately. The Board and the Fund Manager believe that this measure will prevent any near and mid-term liquidity challenges, help achieve optimal exit values for maturing portfolio companies once exit market conditions improve, and ensure that proceeds generated from those exits are returned to all shareholders. The Independent Review Committee of the Fund has recommended the change to an annual distribution policy.

Although precipitated by the adverse market conditions resulting from the deep global recession we have been experiencing, the move is consistent with VenGrowth's institutional-style approach to managing venture capital funds. Institutional venture funds are run as finite pools, whereby investments are managed to maturity and then exit proceeds are distributed to investors as the fund is eventually wound down. Since 1982, VenGrowth has operated a series of venture funds consistent with this approach.

"It was not easy for us to arrive at this decision, but we strongly believe that this move to an annual distribution policy is in the best interest of our shareholders. It enables us to balance the desire to generate annual distributions to shareholders, while ensuring that a fair value for the excellent private portfolio companies can be obtained in the market place," said David Ferguson, VenGrowth Managing General Partner.

As it appears that a global financial crisis has begun to pass, public stock markets have recouped a portion of their dramatic losses. However, the recession that characterized much of the past 24 months has had a profound impact on the ability of the Fund to sell promising investments. Not a single Canadian life sciences company has been able to complete an IPO since October, 2007. Similarly, M&A activity involving Canadian life sciences companies has decreased dramatically. A more bullish sentiment amongst investors and strategic acquirers alike is required before stronger exit markets will prevail for private companies.

Despite this difficult environment, the growing maturity of the Fund's portfolio of venture-backed Canadian life sciences companies was highlighted over the year by a string of important milestones met in the development of both drug candidates and medical devices. Many investee companies have entered into, or are currently negotiating new partnering agreements with larger companies that are interested in drug therapies and other medical technologies being developed by the Funds' investee companies. These partnerships help spread risk, provide an important funding source, and provide a ready distribution channel for a product if it passes through the various clinical trials and regulatory approval processes. These strategic partnering alliances help validate the potential of the products of the Fund's portfolio companies, and often accelerate a company's ability to go public, or increase its attractiveness as a possible acquisition target.

About VenGrowth Asset Management

VenGrowth is a premier Canadian private equity firm. Since 1982, VenGrowth has invested over $1.3 billion in almost 200 North American companies, working alongside business owners to maximize potential. VenGrowth manages assets on behalf of over 150,000 individual investors as well as leading pension funds, banks, insurance companies and family foundations. VenGrowth's offices are located in Toronto (Corporate Headquarters), Ottawa and Montreal. For more information, please visit www.vengrowth.com.

Commissions, trailing commissions, management fees and expenses all may be associated with mutual fund investments. Mutual funds are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated.

Contact Information

  • Media Inquiries: VenGrowth Asset Management Inc.
    Wesley Ollson
    Director, Product Management and Communications
    (416) 628-9263
    wollson@vengrowth.com