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The vaccine billionaires – and their investment offices

The race to successfully develop a vaccine for Covid-19 is the biggest issue the world faces today given the enormous damage the pandemic has and continues to wreak across the globe. 

Governments and Big Pharma companies are leading that charge, but there are also a number of billionaires who’ve backed biotech companies at the forefront of research into vaccine development for the disease. 

One of its biggest shareholders is ATHOS Service, the family office of brothers Thomas and Andreas Strüngmann, the German pharma billionaires

With a few of these biotech groups close to success in the Covid vaccine race, their billionaire backers stand to make huge sums from their foresight to back them before the pandemic.  

And perhaps the billionaire most likely to benefit is Dietmar Hopp, the software entrepreneur and one of the founders of the German technology group SAP. 

Hopp is the biggest shareholder in CureVac, which is a pioneer in harnessing mRNA, a single-stranded DNA molecule, for medical purposes, specifically for vaccines to treat new pathogens like coronavirus. 

CureVac just got backing from UK Big Pharma group GlaxoSmithKline. GSK invested £130 million in the Tübingen, southern Germany-based biotech group, for a 10% stake. That values the company at more than $1.6 billion. Hopp, through his various investment offices, owned around 70% of CureVac before the GSK investment. 

Other family backers behind CureVace include Mexico’s billionaire Coppel family, who own department stores. But their stake is likely to be small, if they haven’t already sold out in later rounds. 

BioNTech, another German biotech company developing a vaccine for Covid, is also likely to make its backers a lot of money. One of its biggest shareholders is ATHOS Service, the family office of brothers Thomas and Andreas Strüngmann, the German pharma billionaires. 

BioNTech is partnering with the big American pharmaceutical group Pfizer to develop a Covid vaccine. This week the two groups announced an agreement to supply the UK with 30 million doses of the vaccine when it comes available. 

Another early backer of BioNTech is Jebsen Capital, the Hong Kong investment office owned by the Jebsen Group, which in turn is owned by the Jebsen and Jessen families, – the two families originally come from Germany, but now run businesses in Hong Kong and Singapore. 

A big backer of a number of these biotech vaccines groups is also the Bill & Medina Gates Foundation. The foundation backed BioNTech – it gave the listed biotech group $55 million last September. The Seattle-based foundation also backed CureVac – this time much early, in 2015 when the foundation signed a check for $71 million for the biotech group. 

Billionaires aren’t just backing Covid vaccines, they like other vaccine treatments as well, as one of Switzerland’s richest individuals underlined last week. 

The entrepreneur Hans-Peter Wild, through his investment group HP Wild Holding, has invested in Imvax, a Philidephia-based biotech group developing vaccines for the treatment of certain cancerous tumours. HP Wild Holdings led an investment ground with four others worth $112 million in Imvax.

Clearly, when it comes to biotech, vaccines are at the forefront. The astute investors who’ve realised this and backed the winners in the sector stand to make impressive returns. 

 

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