US retirement fund manager Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association (LACERA) has approved a capital commitment of up to $100 million to two investment vehicles launched by Lilly Asia Ventures (LAV), a China-based biomedical venture capital (VC) firm.
In a filing on January 13, LACERA disclosed that its Board of Investments voted 9-0 to give the green light to an investment of up to $100 million to LAV Fund VI and LAV Fund VI Opportunities.
LAV is in the market raising $900 million for LAV Fund VI and $450 million for LAV Fund VI Opportunities, the firm revealed in two filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on January 21.
The two new funds will primarily make venture, growth, and public equity investments in the biomedical industry with a focus on China and the US. The vehicles will invest across different stages ranging from early stage to public listed equities, but they plan to place a great emphasis on early-stage investments.
LAV was originated in 2008 as a corporate VC arm of US-based drugmaker Eli Lilly & Co, before it spun out from its parent in 2009 in a move to enable the investment team to earn carried interest and positions to compete with traditional VCs for talent. As one of the earliest biomedical venture investors in China, LAV has over 30 scientific, medical, investment, and operational professionals, managing $1.2 billion+ of committed capital, shows the firm’s website.
The firm has been investing in China for over a decade and has recently moved on to expand the footprint in the US. It now operates from offices in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Palo Alto.
LAV is an investor behind oncology-focused biopharmaceutical firm Abbisko Therapeutics; Gracell Biotechnologies, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical firm that went public on Nasdaq this month; biotech company EdiGene; and Transcenta, a global biotherapeutics firm developing antibody-based therapeutics.
According to a series of SEC filings, between 2015 and 2019, the firm had set targets of $750 million for the predecessor fund, LAV Biosciences Fund V (filed in January 2019); $450 million for LAV Biosciences Fund IV (filed in February 2017); and $150 million for LAV Biosciences Fund III (filed in March 2015).
Its Fund V was substantially oversubscribed to reach the hard cap of $750 million, compared to the initial target of $650 million, according to an AVCJ report in February 2019, citing sources. LACERA had committed $100 million to the previous fund.