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Former Labour minister ousted from Sensyne Health

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Lord Drayson
Lord Drayson

The Labour peer and former science minister, Lord Drayson, has been ousted from the healthcare company he founded as it scrambles to secure a lifeline that will all but wipe out its shareholders.

Lord Drayson, who was science and business minister under Gordon Brown from 2008 to 2010, will step down as chief executive with immediate effect.

His departure was announced alongside a major refinancing that would hand control to three Sensyne Health shareholders and result in the company being delisted.

Activist Gatemore, Lansdowne and Sand Grove Capital are understood to be in line to end up with between 90pc to 95pc of the business under the mooted rescue deal.

Sensyne has been battling a dwindling cash pile and has been racing to find a buyer. The company was set up to help use NHS data better, striking deals with various NHS Trusts for anonymous data to help pharmaceutical companies discover new medicines. However, it has struggled to turn a profit and has been fast running out of cash.

Earlier this year, Gatemore, Lansdowne and Sand Grove granted the company a last-minute reprieve to stave off an imminent collapse. The investors struck a deal to grant Sensyne a £6.5m initial cash injection, and said another £5m could be given to the company if both sides decided to go ahead.

Sensyne on Friday said it had now agreed a provisional new deal with the three, which would be providing the funding to receive up to £15m in loan notes, rather than £11.4m initially put forward.

However, the deal will lead to Sensyne being delisted from London’s Aim, all but wiping out its shareholders. Lord Drayson holds a near 23pc stake in the business with his wife, Elspeth.

If it is approved, the new owners will kick off a restructuring which will result in redundancies and will look at whether to dispose of parts of the business.

Sensyne said it expected the funding to be approved shortly, but "without it the company is unlikely to be able to continue to trade beyond this month". The investors providing the loan note are set to start providing funding within the next few weeks, ahead of the vote.

The announcements come as Sensyne suggested there was no notable progress in its attempts to find a serious buyer, saying it was still in discussions with a small number of parties. It said there was no certainty any offer would be made.

Lord Drayson will be replaced by drug discovery veteran Alex Snow, who had until recently served as Exscientia chairman.

The Sensyne chairman, Sir Bruce Keogh, said Mr Snow's "capital-raising credentials will be invaluable as he leads Sensyne through the next stage of its development".

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