After maintaining a low professional profile for the past couple of years, Jacob Gottlieb is back at the helm of his own investment firm, Altium Capital. Gottlieb has a passion for healthcare investing and has become an expert in the field over his many years as a top fund manager and CEO. His vision for Altium is aligned with his expertise and the company is positioned to be Gottlieb’s next success story. The financial industry and healthcare investors are sure to see some exciting changes and opportunities for growth in the coming years.
Until recently, Gottlieb’s primary focus had been winding up his previous firm, Visium Asset Management. Created in 2005, Visium was a successful healthcare-focused investment fund with high profile pension fund investors including the New Jersey State Investment Council, the School Employees Retirement System of Ohio, and the Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System. When he started Visium, Gottlieb’s reputation as a successful fund manager meant that he was quickly able to bring together a founding team of 20 investment partners and $300 million in seed capital. Gottlieb’s career success at firms like Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., Merlin Biomed Group, and Balyasny Asset Management had earned him a reputation as an industry veteran known for large portfolio gains.
Under Gottlieb’s leadership, the firm grew and investors collected healthy returns. By 2016 Visium had 170 employees and a global presence with offices in New York, London, and San Francisco. Visium appeared to be on a non-stop upward trajectory and the firm’s assets doubled in size between 2013 and 2016. Despite this success and Gottlieb’s diligent oversight, trouble was just around the corner. Neither Gottlieb nor the trained eyes of external auditors and administrators could catch the devious actions of a group of rogue employees.
Visium’s decade of success came to a very public end when three of the firm’s top fund managers were accused of insider training, conspiracy, and fraud.
Recently, new charges were also brought against the company itself. Visium has not admitted or denied the charges but has agreed to pay nearly $10 million dollars in fines and disgorgement. Gottlieb himself has never been charged and has been cleared of any legal wrongdoing. Since 2016 Gottlieb has continued to work tirelessly to wind down the company and return funds to investors. Despite incurring tremendous personal and professional costs, Gottlieb’s priority has always been Visium’s investors.
With his work at Visium recently completed, Gottlieb has been able to turn his attention towards his next venture, Altium Capital. Like Visium, Altium is also a healthcare-focused hedge fund and this plays to Gottlieb’s strengths and reputation as a top investor in this space. Altium is well on its way to building a strong portfolio with its first two major investments already complete.
Altium’s first investment was 5.61% stake in Jerusalem-based Oramed Pharmaceuticals Inc. Founded in 2006, Oramed is focused on improving the way that medical treatments are administered. Oremed’s flagship product is poised to disrupt the traditional insulin market and change the lives of millions of people living with diabetes. Their oral insulin capsule replaces the need to inject insulin and improves patient comfort while reducing infection rates and treatment costs. The technology also has applications for other protein-based medical therapies.
While Oramed has yet to receive FDA approval in the US, the Chinese market has been very supportive and China-based Wuzhou Zhongheng Group invested $52 million in 2015. Oramed has since landed a $50 million licensing deal that includes China, Hong Kong, and Macau. This international support and the fact that Oramed is in the late stages of US clinical trials have made Oramed a very strategic first purchase for Altium.
Sellas Life Sciences is the most recent addition to Altium’s portfolio. In June Altium purchased a 9.81% passive stake in the New York City-based company. Like Oramed, Sellas is also a late-stage pharmaceutical company. Sellas develops cancer immunotherapies that can be applied to a broad range of cancer indications. Although Sellas’s products have not yet been approved by the FDA, the results of their Phase 2 and 3 studies are encouraging and they are making significant advancements.
Recently the company was granted a fast track designation by the FDA for Galinpepimut-S, a cancer vaccine that’s being evaluated for multiple myeloma. Previous to that, the FDA also designated Galinpepimut-S an orphan drug meaning that it will have seven years of market exclusivity if approved. In addition, Sellas will receive tax credits for trials and an exemption from FDA application fees. The fast track and orphan designations are a huge vote of confidence from the FDA and further reinforce that Sellas is a strategic investment by Gottlieb in a company positioned for major success.
With the initial investments in Oramed and Sellas, Altium is well on its way to amassing a strong healthcare portfolio. Gottlieb will continue to evaluate investment opportunities and grow his team from the New York City office that he shares with two other financial healthcare titans, Iguana Healthcare Partners and Bay City Capital.