Mumbai-based biotech firm Actis Biologics is looking to raise $400 million to expand operations which is spread across India, US and Malaysia. It is in talks with a UK and a US-based fund to raise the first tranche of $250 million, reports said.

The firm is planning to raise $250 million to invest in Malaysia, $100 million for Indian operations and a further $50 million for the US. "We expect to raise $250 million in the next four months for the Malaysian project. Once that is in place, then we will look funds for the Indian and the US operations," Actis Biologics president PN Venugopalan told PTI according to this report.

It is not clear what would be the mode of the equity transaction, but it is unlikely that it would involve a plain vanilla deal in the parent firm. An earlier report in The Economic Times had quoted the privately held firm’s CEO as saying that the company was looking to sell 15% stake to private equity firm and was in discussions with three foreign players to raise Rs 125 crore through issue of fresh shares. This would have valued the company at Rs 833 crore ($165 million), much lower than what the company is looking to raise now. Given the state of markets it is unlikely that the firm can ask for a significant ramped up valuation within six months.

This earlier report in October 2008 had quoted Actis Biologics president PN Venugopalan as saying that he hoped to finalise a deal before the end of the year. The fund was to be used for a new plant to be built at Khopoli in Mumbai estimated to cost $9.5 million (approximately Rs 44 crore) besides meeting the company’s working capital requirement for the next 10 months.

Meanwhile, Venugopalan told PTI that the company will join hands with the Malaysian government to set up a biotech park called Biocity in Melaka, Malaysia. This project will cost $250 million and Actis Biologics has been allotted 270 acres of land for the project. To support biotech companies, Actis and the Malaysian government would set up a 50:50 JV firm in Malaysia.

Actis Biologics calls itself a biotech venture technology company focusing on the life science sector. It has set up two separate ventures with further subunits in India and Malaysia.

Actis Biologics Pvt Ltd has JVs with entrepreneurs in India to target discovery of new molecules through collaborations and/or internal research or to in-license promising targets. These ventures also seek to add value to the targets by accelerating the progression through the biopharma product life cycle while reducing costs by a significant margin. It also has a JV with Malaysian investors under the umbrella of Actis Biologics Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

Actis Biologics has incorporated under its banner-- Kohinoor Biotech to focus on a Ribozyme tech platform, Aum Life Sciences to focus on development of various recombinant proteins and MABS Mercury Biotech for development of GeneTherapy based products, Deep Biotech for developing various immunotherapies. Actis Biologics Malaysia Sdn Bhd. has under its banner-- Telesto Diagnostics to develop CAD based diagnostics for various abnormalities and Cogenesis to develop novel respiratory products.

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