Woodford has faced challenges in selling its shareholdings in spinouts including Oxford Nanopore and Immunocore, but has now lined up Acacia as a potential buyer.

Patent acquisition group Acacia Research Corp is in talks to acquire shareholdings outstanding from the demise of investment management firm Woodford Investment Management, Sky News reported on Wednesday.

Acacia Research has a market cap of less than $150m, which, even with recent depreciation, is less than half of the $300m price tag for Woodford’s assets.

However, it has $400m of additional equity funding and debt liquidity through a partnership with its activist investor Starboard Value aimed at financing strategic acquisitions and investments.

Acacia is thought to be one of a few bidders for the ex-Woodford stocks, which include drug discovery technology developer BenevolentAI and University of Oxford’s genetic sequencing business Oxford Nanopore and biopharmaceutical spinout Immunocore.

Other potential bidders include Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Management and biotech investor Sir Christopher Evans.

Neil Woodford, the founder of Woodford Investment Management, is said to have submitted a proposal to the adviser on the sale, PJT Park Hill Partners, together with former colleague Craig Newman.

Sky News said a deal for the assets was almost sealed in late 2019 with life sciences investment bank WG Partners but has since fallen through.