Binder Venture Fund Closing About $40 Million Short

Staff Reporter

Coastview Capital LLC, the biomedical venture capital firm started by former Amgen Inc. chairman Gordon Binder, expects to close its first fund within the month, but it will total $60 million far less than the $100 million anticipated.

The firm, which has refused to discuss its fundraising since being formed last year, gave a preview of its efforts and business plan at an annual investment conference organized by the Southern California Biomedical Council, a regional trade group.

Edward Sonnenschein Jr., a managing director at the firm, told the conference that Coastview was within "four to six weeks" of closing out a $60 million fund. Sonnenschein did not say the firm had sought $100 million, but that number had been floated in the local biomedical community.

Binder, through a spokesman, said the firm would not otherwise comment on its fund while still raising money.

William L. Robbins, managing director of Convergent Ventures, a smaller local venture capital firm that attended the conference, said his own firm has had trouble raising money for its first fund, which is less than $10 million.

"The venture capital fundraising process is arduous, time consuming and to a certain extent unpredictable," Robbins said. "In raising a new fund one sets a target and it is really just that a target not an absolute guarantee."

While venture capital has poured into the biomedical sector since the dot-com collapse, much of the money has gone to established firms with track records for picking out investment winners. Newer funds have struggled to raise funds.

That description would fit Coastview, which also counts among its founders Lawrence Souza, a former head of research at Amgen, whose work led to the development of Neupogen, one of the firm's two blockbuster drugs.

Coastview plans to target firms located in Southern California, though it also will consider those in Northern California and Massachusetts, where Binder sits on the board of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sonnenschein said at the conference.

The company will focus on early stage institutional investments of $3 million to $5 million, but also will consider smaller seed investments in local firms it can mentor, he said.

In particular, Coastview is seeking companies that have developed drugs or core technology that can be used in the development or design of drugs. Those drugs and technologies also should meet pharmaceutical industry needs, he said.

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