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Alaska Permanent Fund Invests in Cancer Research Startup

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Did you know sovereign wealth funds invest in cancer research? On December 4th, Seattle-based Juno Therapeutics Inc., a biotechnology startup focused on cancer therapeutics, launched with US$ 120 million in series A funding. It was one of the biggest Series A rounds for biotechnology startups on record. The capital comes from investors including ARCH Venture Partners and CLAlaska LP. ARCH Venture Partners has a deep rooted history with academia, originally spun off from a technology commercialization initiative started by The University of Chicago. CLAlaska LP is a partnership managed by Fort Worth-based Crestline Investors on behalf of the US$ 48 billion Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (APFC).

Co-founder Hans Bishop will lead as CEO of Juno Therapeutics.

Juno Therapeutics three strategic partners are The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Seattle Children’s Research Institute. These cancer research centers were once longtime rivals. Juno will focus on reprogramming immune cells called T lymphocytes.

From a Juno press release, Michael Burns, executive director of Alaska Permanent Fund, added, “Juno presents a compelling opportunity to partner with a sophisticated management team and group of world-class research institutions who share our long-term perspective. At a time when public financing for clinical development has largely dried up, the private-sector model is critical to allowing ventures like Juno to push the frontiers of research.”

Co-founder Hans Bishop will lead as CEO of Juno Therapeutics. Previously, he was an executive-in-residence at Warburg Pincus. Before that, Bishop was the chief operating officer of Dendreon, a Seattle-based biotechnology company that develops immunotherapy products used in cancer treatment.

Mergermarket Gets Ready to be Sold

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Private equity firm BC Partners hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to advise on the sales of Acuris. Acuris is a collection of financial news and data sites, which includes Mergermarket, Dealreporter, and Debtwire. In 2017, BC Partners sold around a 30% stake in GIC Private Limited.

Before the rebranding to Acuris, Mergermarket was part of The Financial Times Group until 2013 when it was sold off to BC Partners.

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Why Japan Post Sees Promise in Aflac

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Aflac Inc. is an American insurance company founded in 1955. The company is the biggest provider of supplemental insurance in the United States. Aflac also has major operations in Japan.

In December 2018, Japan Post Holdings (JPHLF) signaled it was spending US$ 2.64 billion for a 7-8 % stake in Aflac. The goal is that, in four years time, Aflac will become an affiliate of Japan Post. Japan Post hopes to accomplish this by becoming the largest voting shareholder of the company. The world’s 13th largest company, with 400,000 employees, Japan Post needs to expand to chase further growth, mainly because Japan Post expects the postal business to decline. Diversification is seen as the optimal route to long term stability for the holding company. Japan’s economy is worrying. Japan’s aging population means that many insurance companies are facing a shrinking customer base, Japan Post settled on a plan to expand overseas.

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RDIF and Development Agency of Serbia Agree to Explore Joint Investments

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The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and the Development Agency of Serbia, also known as Razvojna agencija Srbije, reached an agreement to work together to identify attractive investment projects to strengthen bilateral economic ties and increase investment flows between Russia and Serbia. Russian capital and businesses are keen on investing in Serbia.

In addition, the two countries signed an agreement to cooperate on civil nuclear energy, according to state-owned Russian reactor builder Rosatom (Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation). Rosatom continues to expand it business of nuclear cooperation deals in a wide number of countries.

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