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Czura Thornton to Buy MDS Central Lab Business

Monday, October 19, 2009

Czura Thornton, the private investment group that already owns UK-based contract research organization (CRO) Chiltern International, has agreed to acquire the global central laboratory operations of MDS Pharma Services for about $8 million. 

The deal price could be worth up to $4 million more to MDS if the central laboratory achieves certain performance thresholds after the closing of the deal—which is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter. 

MDS’ central laboratory operations employs more than 600 people at six sites in North America, Europe and Asia. It has accredited facilities in Beijing; Hamburg, Germany; North Brunswick, N.J.; Paris; Singapore and Toronto. They provide a range of late-stage laboratory and electrocardiogram services supporting clinical trials globally. The business’ proprietary central laboratory protocol management system offers clients real-time access to study data. 

Czura Thornton’s founders Tony Czura and Nick Thornton, in a joint statement, said: “We are delighted to be acquiring MDS’s global central laboratory platform and the deep expertise of the people there. Combined with our focus on the consistent delivery of high quality service and the flexibility and responsiveness that private ownership allows, we look forward to seeing renewed strength and growth in the business. While we see excellent opportunities for collaboration with Chiltern, a leading CRO also owned by Czura Thornton, the two entities will operate independently.” 

Chiltern has 1,400 employees in 23 countries. 

The sale of the MDS’ Central Labs operations in France and Germany is subject to review and consultation with the applicable Works Councils in accordance with labor laws in those countries. 

David Spaight, president of MDS Pharma Services, said the proposed transaction does not include bioanalysis operations at the MDS Pharma Services facilities in Lincoln, Neb.; Lyon, France; Montreal, Canada; and Zurich, Switzerland. 

“The completed divestiture of our late stage business allows MDS Pharma Services to play to our strengths and concentrate on what we do best,” Spaight said. “The future of MDS Pharma Services is firmly focused on the delivery of early stage services—discovery through phase IIa clinical proof-of-concept studies. Our offering includes molecular screening, profiling, drug safety assessment, early clinical research and bioanalysis.” 

Spaight said MDS Pharma Services still offers a broad early stage portfolio with more than 1,000 early-stage beds in Europe and North America, and more than 1,700 employees at 10 facilities in six countries in Asia, Europe and North America. “Although our paths are diverging, I believe that MDS Pharma Services and our former late stage operations are on the road to greater success in their respective markets. Our former colleagues are joining organizations that recognize and value their experience and expertise,” Spaight said.

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