Oracle to Acquire Phase Forward for $685M

Friday, April 16, 2010 02:37 PM

Business software giant Oracle, already a player in the eClinical space, plans to acquire market leader Phase Forward in a deal valued at approximately $685 million—or $17 per share in cash.

The sale, expected to close in the middle of this year, will make the Waltham, Mass.-based eClinical company a part of Oracle’s Health Sciences Global Business Unit.

As part of the deal with Phase Forward, Oracle will acquire all of the company’s employees and management. At the end of 2009, Phase Forward had 939 employees. The company reported revenues of $213.3 million in 2009 with net income of $8 million, or $0.18 per diluted share.

Phase Forward’s share price jumped more than 28% to $16.86 when the markets opened on April 16, following the announcement of the pending acquisition.

This major deal caps a busy 18 months of consolidation in the eClinical space. In 2008, there were three EDC company acquisitions. In 2009, deals tripled to nine. All took place during the second half of 2009. BioClinica, Phase Forward and Omnicomm all made two acquisitions apiece, and Oracle, ISI and Merge Healthcare each made one. The areas of safety and integrated response technology were popular for acquisitions, and some were just straight-forward electronic data capture (EDC) company/division acquisitions. Eclinical acquisitions in 2009, for the most part, were of smaller companies that had built up strength, expertise and products in a particular area by large, global companies that either wanted to build on their own strengths in that area or enter into it.

Technology companies in the clinical research space increasingly need to offer pharma a single platform that will meet all their data collection and management needs globally.

Oracle’s health sciences unit was created last year to address opportunities in the life sciences and healthcare industries and to compete directly with Phase Forward and the other large competitor in the space, Medidata Solutions.

When Oracle first created the new business unit, Neil de Crescenzo, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Health Sciences, said in an interview with CWWeekly, “The board was concerned that if we set up efforts in these areas and were competing with people who are laser-like focused on these areas, such as Medidata and Phase Forward, it is going to be difficult unless we have a similarly focused group of people who wake every morning focused on this industry.”

De Crescenzo said, at the time, he considered Phase Forward Oracle’s main competitor in clinical development and safety.

“The life sciences and healthcare industries are converging as they seek to control costs while accelerating patient-centered innovation,” said de Crescenzo in a statement last week. “Phase Forward brings outstanding products and employees with significant expertise to Oracle that will help enable the delivery of personalized medicine and value-based healthcare.”

Oracle acquired Relsys International, a provider of drug safety and risk management applications, last August.

At that time, de Crescenzo told CWWeekly that Oracle planned to continue growing its health sciences unit. The company acquired the intellectual property assets of Conformia Software in June 2009 to enhance its existing technology for managing drug development, packaging and commercialization.

“We expect to continue to experience substantial growth in line with the market opportunity and our expanding product portfolio,” de Crescenzo said.

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