More proof that the markets are improving: equity investors the Halifax Group and SV Life Sciences have acquired three companies that they will roll up into one, yet-to-be-named, adaptive trials-focused, CRO-like entity.
The acquisitions follow the groups’ purchase two years ago of a majority stake in Trio Clinical Research Management, a CRO/staffing company hybrid. Since that 2008 purchase, SV Life Sciences and Halifax have been looking at other companies to acquire and marry with Durham, N.C.-based Trio, but the economy held them back, according to SV Life Sciences partner Darren Black.
“Late 2008 and 2009 was a tougher time to get deals done; it was hard to know where the bottom was on the market,” Black said. “Now conditions are improving.”
The companies just acquired are:
Fulcrum Pharma, a publicly traded, UK-based, full-service CRO that has robust business in Japan, with particular expertise in rare diseases and regulatory matters. Fulcrum was originally spun out of Roche and traded on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM), a sub-market of the London Stock Exchange, said Black.
ClinResearch, an 11-year-old, Cologne, Germany-based CRO that does a lot of work with German pharma and biotech companies and has offices in Moscow, Kiev and Sydney, but lacked a strong U.S. presence, said Black.
Addplan, an adaptive trials-centric software company that is a subsidiary of ClinResearch.
The CEO of the new entity will be Patrick Donnelly, former CEO of PRA International and CEO of Trio since 2008. During Donnelly’s tenure, PRA went public, acquired 10 companies and increased its global operations. He resigned in 2007.
Black laughed when asked whether to expect layoffs once the four entities become integrated. “No, instead we’re doing a lot of hiring—we’re growing these organizations,” he said.
But the last thing the equity partners want is for the new company to be a typical CRO. “From our perspective, the world doesn’t need another CRO,” said Black. “We’re really trying to build some differentiated capabilities.”
Thus, the adaptive trials thrust. “Our belief is that adaptive trials are the way to go,” he said. “If you think about the standard phase I, phase II, phase III process, it’s a lengthy, expensive, time-consuming process and hasn’t seen any ground-breaking improvement in years. But if you think about adaptive trials, where you adjust a trial on the fly based on what you’re learning from the data as you go, this could revolutionize research.”
The new, integrated entity will offer niche services around data management, statistics, regulatory and adaptive trial design and conduct, Black explained.
Boston-based Halifax and Washington, D.C.-based SV Life Sciences will soon announce another acquisition to add to the mix, said Black, likely by Labor Day.