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This article was prepared for the November 8, 2000 edition of U.S.
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Leschly at 60, in Venture Capital
Jan Leschly has been a larger-than-life figure since he and his family
moved to Princeton 20 years ago. In 10 years at Bristol-Myers Squibb
this one-time Danish tennis star moved from vice president to
president and COO. Then he went to SmithKline Beecham, where he was
CEO for six years, retiring earlier this year to make way for
SmithKline’s merger with Glaxo.
Now Leschly is the marquee name for a well-heeled life sciences
investment firm that is setting up shop at Princeton Overlook. Care
Capital LLC has $100 million to invest, and $90 million of this has
been supplied by just two New York-based institutions, Morgan Stanley
Dean Witter and Rho Management.
Leschly, 60, will be chairman and CEO of Care Capital. Working with
him is another SmithKline alumnus, John O. Parker Jr., former CIO of
SmithKline Beecham, and one young Wall Street whiz, David R. Ramsay.
Parker is a Harvard MBA who majored in mathematics at Bowdoin, Class
of 1966. He had been in charge of information management at Corning
and Baxter Healthcare, and — in the late 1980s, at Squibb. He had
also been senior vice president of Sea-Land Service, the ocean
shipping and global logistics unit of CSX Corporation.
Ramsay majored in mathematics at Princeton, Class of 1985, and has an
MBA from Stanford. At Morgan Stanley Ramsay did industrial leveraged
buyouts, and he was also managing director of Rhone Capital, a $350
million leveraged buyout fund. (The fund was named for its sponsor,
the largest private bank in Switzerland, which had a vault on the Rue
de Rhone in Geneva.) Ramsay is married to Beth Burrough, former
captain of Princeton University’s basketball team who is now executive
director of the E-commerce group at Johnson & Johnson; they have two
William D. Clark, a principal in the firm, had worked for
in London and in Japan. He went to Harvard and has an MBA from
Established as a private equity corporation, Care Capital opened in
early October in 2,500 square feet, a space that used to be
PaineWebber’s brokerage office at Princeton Overlook Center. "We are
just getting our legs under ourselves," says Ramsay.
Advice and investment are coming from other notable sources, namely
George Poste, a special limited partner. Former chief science and
technology officer at SmithKline, he is now CEO of Health Technology
Networks, an Arizona-based consulting group that studies the impact of
genetics and computing on healthcare R&D. Trained as a pathologist, he
teaches at the University of Pennsylvania, Cambridge University, and
University College in London. He is the chairman of the defense
department’s task force on bioterrorism.
Another limited partner is another SmithKlime alumna, Tamar Howson.
She is a high profile woman on the life sciences investment scene and
familiar to many in Princeton; she had been director of worldwide
business development and licensing for Squibb and vice president of
venture investments at Johnston Associates on Cherry Valley Road. Also
on board as a limited partner is Argeris ("Jerry") N. Karabelas,
current chairman of the Novartis BioVenture Fund.
Given the track record and the deep pockets of the principals, the
$100 million start-up money was not hard to find, says Ramsay. "The
big issue in starting a venture capital firm is how much time do you
want to spend fundraising. We went to two institutions and have $100
million." The partners contributed just $10 million of that figure.
"That is a lot to come out of the box with, and over time we will
build the firm," says Ramsay.
Should more money be needed, it is quite likely that the two principal
investors, Morgan Stanley and Rho, will be ready to ante up. "I am
very confident that if we need more money to do more deals, we will be
able to find it," says Ramsay.
"We are not really seeking more investors," says Parker. "The
strategic intent of this fund is to create superlative returns for the
The firm is located in Princeton at least in part because of Central
Jersey’s focus on life sciences. Steve Cohen of Morgan Lewis & Bockius
is the firm’s attorney, and the accountants are based in Manhattan.
Though Care Capital will consider New Jersey companies, its focus will
be health care investments in the United States and possibly in
The partners caution that the new firm aims to make late stage or
corporate stage investments of between $5 and $50 million, with
preference given to the larger numbers. "Working with a small company
takes as much time as with a large company," Parker says. "We are not
really a seed money venture capital firm. Our concern is more the
company’s stage of development rather than the size of the company. We
won’t invest in a great idea that has not seen the light of day in the
Care Capital’s focus on life sciences, Parker says, includes R&D
productivity tools such as genomic technologies. Likely investments
might be biotech firms that have passed the "proof of concept" stage
and know where they are going. The firm is also very interested in
E-health care and other ways to use innovative technology to make
health care more efficient.
"We see the changes in healthcare — the confluence of scientific
technologies — genomics, robotics, proteomics [protein expression]
and nanotechnology [technology on a molecular scale]. We see the
information revolution continuing and becoming more and more important
in the creation of healthcare solutions and the delivery of
healthcare. And we think we are in a unique position with the
relationships we have with a variety of individuals and firms," says
Parker. "We believe this is a huge opportunity."
"The bottom line is that we intend to be very active in the
investments we make. It is a value proposition — the experience we
can bring to bear in science, in understanding which companies are
interested in what areas in information technology, and in the
creation of financial arrangements that make sense. We have all those
bases covered. There is a lot of money out there but very few have our
connections," says Parker. "Small firms have a hard time getting
through the door and getting above the noise level."
Parker has no regrets about leaving a mega company to work in a small
office on Route 1. "It feels great," says Parker. "In a large company,
90 percent of your time is dictated by the machine, the projects, the
meeting. In a small company, 90 percent of your time you are making
the decision about how to spend your time. But this is very much a
— Barbara Fox
Overlook Suite 102, Princeton 08540. David R. Ramsay, managing
director. 609-520-1973; fax, 609-520-9299.
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