Bosses cash in as Oxford Nanopore shares soar on stock market debut

Bosses cash in at Oxford Nanopore as Covid test-maker’s shares soar more than 40% on stellar London stock market debut

Oxford Nanopore flew out the blocks on its stock market debut, making multi-millionaires out of its founders and senior executives.

The company – which made its name by supplying Covid testing kits to the Government – saw its stock price surge more than 40 per cent, from 425p to 612p with investors scrabbling to get their hands on the shares. That valued the firm at almost £5billion.

The rise meant co-founders Gordon Sanghera and Spike Willcocks saw their paper wealth rise to £63million and £30million respectively. Chief technology officer Clive Brown’s stake topped £10million.

Covid winner: Oxford Nanopore co-founder Gordon Sanghera (pictured) saw his paper wealth rise to £62m as the firm’s shares soared on its London IPO

All three also stand to share an additional bonus pot worth £322million provided they hit performance targets.

The float was closely watched and is viewed as a bellwether for the sector’s attractiveness to investors in London.

Many other UK pharmaceutical and life sciences companies, including Immunocore, have chosen to list on New York’s Nasdaq exchange.

Sanghera said: ‘We are only in the foothills of a long and exciting journey.

‘We are living on the cusp of the genomic era and the group’s technology would open up many possibilities for positive impact.’

Oliver Brown, fund manager at RC Brown Investment Management, said: ‘Oxford Nanopore is a British success story.

‘It is growing at an attractive 30 per cent, and genome sequencing is a sexy and hot area to be in right now – there’s just a lot of demand for the company’s offering.’

Oxford Nanopore was spun out of Oxford University in 2005 and specialises in DNA sequencing.

The company’s DNA tracking technology can be used to detect diseases and tumours.

The firm does this by moving DNA samples through tiny holes – called nanopores – and measuring how they react to electrical currents. Its pocket-sized devices have been used in 85 countries to track the evolution of coronavirus.

The float is also another success story for investment firm IP Group which backed the company from its foundation.

The investor, which helps to commercialise ideas coming out of universities, sold a 4 per cent stake worth £84million yesterday but remains the biggest shareholder with a 10 per cent stake valued at £500million.

But the float spelt more misery for Woodford investors as the disgraced fund manager Neil Woodford was among Oxford Nanopore’s backers before he was ousted from his funds.

Administrators sold his stake to American firm Acacia for £20.8million last year. Those shares are now worth £214million.

Oxford Nanopore also released results, with the firm posting revenues of £59million for the first six months this year. However, it failed to make a profit, recording a £44.4million loss over the period.

In a rare move, Sanghera has been given a special share to veto an unwanted takeover over the next three years.

The move is to ensure Oxford Nanopore can continue to expand without fear of falling victim to a hostile bid.

But as a result Oxford Nanopore will sit in the London stock exchange’s standard segment and is ineligible for the FTSE 100.