Propel Bio Partners Launches With Backing of Richard Kayne

The firm, co-led by the Kayne Anderson co-founder, seeks $150 million for its first fund


Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors co-founder Richard Kayne is helping to launch Propel Bio Partners, a new firm that invests in life-sciences companies.


Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors co-founder Richard Kayne is helping to launch Propel Bio Partners, a new firm that invests in life-sciences companies.


Propel Bio makes equity investments at various stages of company development, aiming to back businesses that provide disruptive technologies and therapies, according to a news release. The Los Angeles-based firm is currently seeking $150 million for its first fund, according to a regulatory filing.


Propel Bio is led by co-founders Mr. Kayne and Leen Kawas, a former chief executive of Athira Pharma Inc.


Athira develops therapies for neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Mr. Kayne invested in Athira in 2016. Ms. Kawas, a veteran biotech executive and Propel Bio's managing general partner, left Athira last year after acknowledging that she altered images in her doctoral research.


Mr. Kayne, who serves as Propel Bio's general partner, remains co-chair of Kayne Anderson, the privateequity firm in Los Angeles that he co-founded in 1984 and which managed about $30 billion as of last July. Mr. Kayne was also the founder of asset manager Kayne Anderson Rudnick, which was sold to the Phoenix Cos. in 2001.


Biotechnology and life sciences have grown to be among the most in-demand sectors for private-equity investors in recent years. In North America, private-equity firms invested $15.2 billion in biopharmaceutical and life-sciences deals last year, a 71% increase from the previous year, according to a report by consulting firm Bain & Co.


Propel Bio aims to provide the companies it backs with medical, operational and financial advice in addition to a financial commitment, the firm said on its website. The firm has a medical and investment advisory board that will help it evaluate potential investments and provide advice to portfolio companies. Propel Bio lists Ronald Lee Krall, a former chief medical officer of pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline PLC; Sylvia McBrinn, a former global vice president of marketing at drugmaker Pfizer Inc.; angel investor Richard Sudek; and biotechnology executive Erik Laursen among its board members.


The firm's debut fund, Propel Bio Partners LP, has not yet made its first sale to an investor yet and is being raised without a placement agent, the Securities and Exchange Commission filing indicates.


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