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CRO Clinipace Worldwide acquires PFC Pharma Focus

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Recent industry news has been dominated by stories of medium to large CROs acquiring one another or being acquired by investment companies. But consolidation is taking place in the smaller end of the market, too. This morning, CRO Clinipace Worldwide announced it has acquired Swiss CRO PFC Pharma Focus.

Together, the two small CROs will have 155 employees in seven countries and aim to capture more of the small to medium-sized biopharmaceutical market, said Jeff Williams, CEO of seven-year-old Clinipace. Terms were not disclosed.

This is Morrisville, N.C.-based Clinipace’s second acquisition this year; the CRO bought Boulder, Colo.-based regulatory affairs and quality assurance consultancy Regulus Pharmaceutical Consulting in March.

Since Clinipace morphed from a software company serving the clinical research space to a full-service CRO in late 2008, the company has grown like gangbusters, said Williams.

PFC Pharma Focus, co-founded in 1992 by Johnson & Johnson alum Kurt Pfister and Kathryn Voegeli, has offices in Zurich; Munich, Germany; and Tel Aviv, Isreal. The company also has a two-year-old Indian subsidiary, PFC India, a joint venture with Chicago-based Excel Life Sciences.

Pfister will become CEO of European operations; Voegeli will be COO of European operations. Williams will remain CEO and chairman of the combined company. PFC will lose its name and become Clinipace by the end of the year.

“We liked that PFC was 19 years old, has a stellar reputation, a great management team, a nice geographic footprint, a regulatory component and no technology,” said Williams, adding, “That was a criteria. We didn’t want to have to unwire anything or reverse engineer anything out of the company.”

Clinipace calls itself a digital CRO (or dCRO), as all of its functions are automated via its eclinical platform, TEMPO. Investors apparently like the concept. Williams said Clinipace is poised to announce a $10 million to $15 million series C funding round in the next few weeks. Annual revenues are just over $20 million, he said.

The plan, said Williams, is to beef up staff by 15% to 20% by the end of the year and continue making acquisitions. He said Clinipace is eyeballing CROs in Eastern Europe, Asia and the U.S.

Outside its headquarters in Research Triangle Park, Clinipace currently has offices in Kansas, Brazil, Argentina and Peru. The company will maintain its headquarters in Morrisville, N.C.

–Suz Redfearn

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