CRO Parexel for sale?

Tom Paine

Lots of recent action in the CRO (Contract Research Organization) space. While most large CROs are not based in Philly, they typically are connected to the area in significant ways. They sell to pharma companies and research organizations, and work closely with clinical trial tech firms (which are frequently in Philly).

Last week, Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. agreed to buy PPD Inc., for $17.4 billion. In February, Icon Plc agreed to acquire PRA Health Sciences Inc. for about $12 billion.

Now Massachusetts-based Parexel, or actually its PE owner Pamplona Capital Management, is considering a sale or a public listing, Bloomberg reports. Parexel, which bought a Philly clinical technology firm more than a decade ago, is reported to be seeking $9 billion including assumption of debt.

In a case of curious timing, Veeva Systems (which has operations in Radnor) and Parexel announced on Friday a joint strategic collaboration for clinical trials, in which Parexel will use Veeva’s clinical trial technology.

Veeva’s chief strategy officer Henry Levy came from PPD.

Would Veeva ever consider buying a CRO? I doubt it, but wouldn’t rule it out. Veeva’s acquisitions so far have been very focused and small, and they like highly digital businesses, and that’s worked well for them. But they could afford an acquisition of that size.