(Alliance News) - Syncona Ltd on Thursday reported a recent increase to the value of its portfolio, as the company said it was in a strong position to push forward its main life science companies.

For the third quarter ended December 31, the London-based life science investor reported a net asset value return of 5.4%, driven by a GBP111.1 million increase in the value of its portfolio company Autolus Therapeutics PLC.

Autolus, a developer of T-cell therapies for cancer treatment, filed a biologics licence application with the US Food & Drug Administration in January, which covers its obe-cell leukemia therapy. The filing was accepted in January, and Syncona expects the FDA to make a decision on approval in November.

The resulting write-up offset a decline in the value of Syncona's holding in Anaveon AG, which dropped to GBP24.9 million from GBP67.7 million.

Synconca had GBP1.25 billion in net assets as of December 31, equivalent to 188.2p per company share, up from GBP1.20 billion at the end of September.

In the three quarters to December 31, net asset value per share has returned 0.9%, with life sciences generating a 3.0% return.

The company's capital pool dropped to GBP551.2 million from GBP580.4 million the previous quarter. GBP18.5 million was invested into life science in the quarter.

The life science portfolio equates to 69% of the company's total portfolio, containing 13 companies, with six at clinical stage and two at late-clinical stage. The portfolio was valued at GBP699.8 million at the end of the quarter, bringing in a 9.7% return.

However, Syncona said that "continuing challenging macro conditions" continued to impact the financing environment for life science companies, but that its strong capital pool provides sufficient flexibility to finance its clinical-stage assets.

Chief Executive Officer Chris Hollowood said: "We have continued to take decisive action to support our companies' ability to deliver on their next key clinical milestones to maximise value across the portfolio against a continuing challenging market backdrop in the third quarter. We have been pleased with the recent clinical and regulatory progress at Autolus, which we believe is now being reflected in its recent positive share price performance."

Shares in Syncona were up 0.1% at 116.90 pence each in London on Thursday.

By Hugh Cameron, Alliance News reporter

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