Would AmerisourceBergen buy CRO Parexel? (Update from WSJ: EQT & Goldman to acquire Parexel for $8.5 billion including debt.)

Tom Paine

UPDATE: WSJ: EQT & Goldman have reached an agreement to acquire Parexel for $8.5 billion including debt.

According to media reports, (newly relocated) Conshohocken-based AmerisourceBergen (NYSE: ABC) is named as a contender to buy Newton MA-based contract research organization (CRO) Parexel. which was put up for sale by its PE owner.

You might think – no problem. AmerisourceBergen is 8th on the Fortune 500, with revenue of almost $200 billion a year. It can buy anyone it wants to.

But hold on. Its margins, as a wholesaler, are razor-thin. In its most recent fiscal year, revenue was $196.3 billion, while cost of revenue was $190.7 billion. And its market value is less than $24 billon at present.

Parexel, which is currently privately owned by PE firm Pamplona, is said to be seeking $9 billion, including debt assumption. That’s a good chunk of change for AmerisourceBergen – more than a third of its market value.

Parexel is reported to have 10 interested parties, including a consortium of PE firms that is putting together a bid.

In April, Parexel announced that Peyton Howell, previously an AmerisourceBergen Executive Vice President, had left to joined Parexel as Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer, a rather big job one would think. I wonder if that move added to speculation that something was up between the two firms.

Whether owning a CRO is essential for a drug wholesaler is not clear. Some observers are skeptical.

In April, Veeva Systems and Parexel announced an agreement to collaborate on clinical trials. Parexel would standardize on Veeva’s clinical trial technology.

Which raises the question whether California-based Veeva, which built most of its clinical trial business in Radnor, and Parexel would make good permanent partners.

Veeva, worth over $40 billion, could afford to buy Parexel and its an interesting idea, and there’s no question that the clinical trial market is booming. But it would go against the grain of Veeva’s successful strategy, which is for Veeva to do everything that is digital and for partners to do the rest.

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.

Philly EnterpriseTech Highlights 12/7 -12/8: Veeva Systems, Signant Health, Amazon HealthLake, Inovio

Fortune’s “Future 50” Philly ties: Veeva Systems, Ansys

Tom Paine

Fortune published the fourth annual editioof its Future 50 index yesterday, which “assesses the long-term growth prospects of large public companies and identifies who comes out on top”, based on analysis of long-term success factors done in conjunction with Boston Consulting Group.

There aren’t any Philly-based companies on it, but two with connections to Philly are.

Veeva Systems, #2, created the dominant Cloud business for the Life Sciences on just $7 milion of venture capital. Veeva has long had a presence in Radnor, formerly led by co-founder Matt Wallach, a Wallingford native.. He stepped down as president in 2019, but returned this year as a non-executive board member.

Veeva has over 300 employees in greater Philadelphia, and also has offices in Fort Washington and Philadelphia in addition to Radnor. Veeva’s CTMS (Clinical Trial Management System) and OpenData businesses are centered in the area.

Founded in 2007, Veeva expects revenue for its current fiscal year of around $1.7 billion , and has a current market value of $40.6 billion.

#41 on Fortune’s Future 50 is Pittsburgh-based Ansys, which specializes in industrial simulation (think “digital twins”).

Ansys recently agreed to acquire Exton-based AGI (Analytical Graphics), which tracks space junk, for $700 million – 67% in cash and 33% in Ansys stock. Ansys had revenue last year of $1.515 billion, and its market cap is a shade under $30 billion.

Who was #1? ServiceNow, under the leadership of ex-SAP CEO Bill McDermott.

Highlights – Memorial Day Weekend

Tom Paine

While many people were taking advantage of the limited freedoms allowed by the State, a few notable things in the tech world were happening:

Rather than letting Covid-19 slow it down, Microsoft appears to be speeding up, or perhaps its just doing a better job at publicity. The biggest news of the week from Microsoft was the introduction of Microsoft Industry Clouds, beginning with Healthcare.

The standard for industry clouds is Veeva Systems for life sciences .Everything in Veeva’s cloud is highly integrated to work together. I’m not sure that Microsoft has achieved that yet, but its put alot of tools out there, mostly focused on communications and scheduling. But that’s a good start, and the company should be patient with a slow build.

Veeva is worth just under $30 billion today. Pharma has unique regulatory conditions that has probably made that possible. Its not clear that it can be replicated.

Other industry clouds are expected to be forthcoming from Microsoft.

Also, Microsoft has been busy on the acquisition front. A Light Reading podcast discusses how it might utilize two recent telecom-related acquisitions: Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch Networks.

In another telecom situation, Microsoft is reported to be close to making a $2 billion investment for a ~2% stake in Jio Platform, India’s largest wireless network.

Alibaba’s Cloud business saw revenue grow 62% to a $5.6B run rate in Q1 2020, but its still only a sixth the size of AWS. Given that the breakdown in economic and technological ties between China and the US is expected to worsen, China is likely to increasingly see Alibaba Cloud as a vital national. strategic asset. It doesn’t want Chinese business to depend on the US clouds.

Also, today another Chinese internet power, Tencent, announced plans to invest US$70 billion in new digital infrastructure. The five-year plan will have Tencent focus on fields that include cloud computing, artificial intelligence, blockchain technology and the Internet of Things. Other investments will go to infrastructure such as advanced servers, supercomputers, data centers and 5G mobile networks.

CNBC weighs in with a piece about how “Digital health stocks are surging because ‘suddenly now we’re in the future’ “, thanks to Covid -19. There’s a whole bunch of digital health startups in Philly that aren’t IPO-ready yet. One that was ready is Moorestown-based Tabula Rasa, which went public in 2016 and is now worth $1.35 billion.

Other items worthy of mention:

As this Twitter ad makes clear, GSK is teaming up with a sometime-competitor for a Covud-19 vaccine effort:

It will be interesting to see how $16 billion will be spent to expand broadband to places in the US that are currently not served. Expect a big fight between both political parties and telecom companies.

Comcast decides what the next move in its network architecture will look like, while some other cable operators decide differently.

Philly EnterpriseTech Highlights 3/5 & 3/6: Veeva reports billion dollar year & helping customers deal with COVID-19; MeetMe to be acquired for $500M

Veeva reports another excellent quarter & has 1st billion dollar year; Helping customers deal with COVID-19

Tom Paine

Veeva Systems, which has its headquarters in California but a significant east coast presence based in Radnor, announced its Q4 fiscal 2020 and full year results Tuesday, exceeding a billion dollar annual run rate and beating analyst estimates for revenue and earnings.

Total revenues for the fourth quarter were $311.5 million, up from $232.3 million one year ago, an increase of 34% year-over-year. Fiscal Year 2020 Total Revenues were $1,104.1M, up 28% . Fiscal year 2020 net income was $301.1 million, compared to $229.8 million one year ago, an increase of 31% year-over-year.

For Fiscal 2021, revenues are expected to be within $1.40-$1.41 billion. Adjusted EPS is expected to be $2.50.

Veeva (NYSE: VEEV) has a current market cap of $21.7 billion. Its current share price, $146.54, is still below its all-time high of $176.90 achieved last year.

Veeva’s Paul Shawah, Senior VP Commercial Strategy, also told me that Veeva is aiding life sciences companies’ communications with physicians, which has become more difficult in some places due to the Corona Virus (COVID-19).

In China, for example, people are often being asked to stay at home. This is having a major impact on doctors as it cuts off an important communications channel to the pharma reps and medical professionals they depend on for information on the latest research and treatments. This is especially true for oncologists and cancer treatment. If the pharma industry can’t reach the doctors, they can’t educate them on the latest medicines for their patients

In response to the growing challenge of COVID-19, Veeva is offering a rapid remote detailing enablement program using Veeva CRM Engage Meeting, a web-based video and content sharing platform designed for unique needs of life science companies. This will allow Veeva customers to engage with healthcare providers in a compliant way and ensure continuity of care for patients, whilst avoiding the need to travel or meet in person.

This offer is valid exclusively for Veeva CRM customers not currently using Engage Meeting and for customers wishing to extend their existing Engage Meeting country deployment in other countries not currently using Engage Meeting. This offer does not apply to Engage Meeting licenses already contracted for.

 In just two weeks, nearly 12,000 reps across 6 major pharma companies have taken advantage of this offer and gone live.

Another way in which Veeva can help is by having the other side of Veeva’s business, Veeva Vault, manage clinical trials for life sciences companies with potential therapies or vaccines for the virus using Veeva Vault CDMS. These clinical trials will obviously have a need for speed by streamlining the process while still meeting the regulatory hurdles. But I have no confirmation on specifics for that at this time.

Veeva R&D Summit draws life sciences leaders to Philly

Tom Paine

California-based Veeva Systems was showing some of its Philadelphia ties this week, hosting a major conference in the city. The 2019 Veeva R&D Summit took place Sept. 8-10, 2019 in Philadelphia, and was expected to draw 1,700 life sciences professionals and industry experts. Former Novartis CEO Joe Jimenez and Lilly’s Drug Development leader were featured keynote speakers.

While Silicon Valley is Veeva’s base for managing one of the most sophisticated cloud operations around, it needs to stay close to its major customers on the east coast, as it does through its Radnor office. The R&D summit focused on Veeva’ clinical data side, as Veeva Vault now makes up a majority of its revenues.

Veeva has achieved an important financial milestone in the 2nd calendar quarter of 2019, reporting revenue of $267 million (up 27.3 year over year), assuring a billion dollar run rate for its 2020 fiscal year ending this coming January. Veeva is forecasting total revenues between $1,062 and $1,065 million and non-GAAP operating income between $401 and $404 million for FY 2020.

Veeva says that the number of Vault CTMS customers has doubled in less than a year to 50 (see my earlier article, Veeva Vault has traction in CTMS). Veeeva, among others, is trying to redefine the CTMS category, which is a critical bottleneck in the industry’s need to get products to market in a safe and timely manner.

Veeva also announced today that it will host a 2020 Medical Device & Diagnostics Summit June 1-2, 2020 in Minneapolis, reflecting an increased focus on that segment.

Veeva (NYSE: VEEV) has continued a remarkable stretch of market and financial performance. It currently has a Price/Sales (not P/E) ratio of 21, and its shares have risen almost 80% during 2019.

“The life sciences industry is transforming to precision medicine and software is transforming along with it to the cloud,” CEO Peter Gassner, who was an executive at Salesforce.com Inc. and Peoplesoft Inc. before co-founding Veeva in 2007, recently told Bloomberg. “The stars are aligning.”


Veeva Vault has traction in CTMS

Tom Paine

Clinical trials are often the biggest bottlenecks in the drug development process. Getting them completed faster and more accurately, and collecting precise data while controlling costs, are industry imperatives.

The extent of clinical trials’ importance are reflected in GV’s (formerly Google Ventures) interest in them. David Schenkein and Krishna Yeshwant, both physicians who lead the life sciences team at GV, want to revolutionize the process, they told Business Inside recently. They might invest in an existing clinical trials company, or start an entirely new one. “There’s a lot of infrastructure that needs to be built in order to start talking about machine learning in clinical trials, in clinical data. And so we’re well down the path of working on companies in that space.,” Yeshwant said.

Veeva Systems (NYSE; VEEV), with its market value approaching $25 billion, maintains its strong growth rate by having a fruitful ongoing product development pipeline. With the success of its Veeva Vault clinical information offering, itself organically developed and now accounting for a a majority of its revenue, a lateral move into clinical trial technology was inevitable and logical. Shared customers, shared expertise, and shared costs with its existing business all pointed that way.

Veeva already had developed one key asset for this, an application named eTMF (electronic Trial Master File), that is instrumental in digitizing the information collected in a trial. In some cases, eTMF replaced completely paper-based systems.

I spoke with Henry Levy, general manager, Veeva Vault CDM, about Veeva’s progress with its  Veeva Vault Clinical Data Management System (CDMS) , a relatively new offering. Levy joined Veeva in late 2016 to head up its new CDMS efforts, following extensive experience with Accenture Life Sciences and a major CRO (contract research organization).

Levy, by the way, came to the US by way of Colombia and holds a bachelor of science degree in bioengineering from Penn. He has studied the Clinical Trials industry inside and out and probably knows his way around it as well as anybody.

You could hold an impromptu forum of CTMS industry leaders at a Main Line coffee spot. Philly is probably the capitol of the clinical trial tech industry, although actual trial activity itself is more dispersed. So despite Veeva’s headquarters being in California, the bulk of its CTMS initiative has been managed from its Radnor office were Levy is located.


Veeva sees the CTMS market as a $1 billion TAM (total addressable market) opportunity, Levy says, not that it expects to capture all of that, but hopes to have a significant share within 3 years in some segments. Veeva sees a total adressable market of $9 billion now for its entire enterprise, so it obviously considers the CTMS opportunity significant.

Veeva reported having 34 CTMS clients at the end of 2918, twice as many than at the end of 2017.

The current CTMS market is probably well in excess of $500 million and growing at a double digit annual rate for the next several years. Market size can be difficult to pin down due to the amount of trials conducted in house and the task of defining what revenues should be included as relevant. Recent IPO SmartSheet, for example, touts its product for CDMS use, but its difficult to quantify its use for that.

Veeva emphasizes these benefits from Vault CTMS:

  • Better decision making: Enable proactive closed-loop issue management and improve strategic trial planning with a complete real-time view of trial status.
  • Streamlined clinical operations: Provide one seamless system of record for shared CTMS, TMF, and study start-up content, improving efficiency and streamlining operations.
  • Unify clinical: Leverage the most comprehensive suite of clinical applications on a single cloud platform to unify clinical operations and data management.

Unification of data and the elimination of silos are emphasized here as throughout Veeva’s product line

Veeva’s Vault CTMS product offering is self sufficient so that in some cases it can give clients an end-to-end technology package and let them go at it, while offering tech support. For others, Veeva will assist in trial management to the extent needed, Levy said.


In April,  Veeva announced that a top 20 pharmaceutical company has selected Veeva Vault Clinical Data Management System (CDMS) as their global standard for EDC, coding, data cleaning, and reporting.

The competitive landscape is changing, with more consolidation and strategic moves to strengthen some market participants’ positions. Bracket bought CRF Health and became Signant Health, Dassault spent $5.8 billion to acquire Metadata in June, Oracle bought GoBalto, and IQVIA, formed through the merger of IMS Health and Quintiles, has made several niche acquisitions towards boosting its clinical trials capabilities.

When I mentioned GoBalto, a startup which uses data sources to seed trials more quickly with the desired population characteristics, Levy admitted that was a big win for Oracle. Which made me wonder whether Veeva, which has been very constrained on acquisitions in general, had been in the running for it. Levy told me he prefers organic growth.

There will always be room for niche specialists in clinical trials. For instance, Malvern-based Biotelemetry and Philly-based ERT both run cardiology trials, and Newtown-based BioClinica specializes in applying imaging to trials. But across verticals, there are common needs that can be addressed by a single, unified platform. The race is on to see who can do it best, and based on its track record I wouldn’t bet against Veeva.

Veeva soars on earnings release

MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2019

Veeva Soars on Earnings Release

  California-based Veeva Systems (NYSE: VEEV), the Life Sciences Cloud company with east coast operations based in Radnor, announced 1st quarter 2020 results on May 29 . it was a blowout quarter in which revenue reached a billion dollar annual run rate at $245 million, up 25% year over year. First quarter operating income was $71.2 million, compared to $44.0 million one year ago, an increase of 62% year-over-year. Net Income grew 66% year-over-year.

Veeva also has offices in Fort Washington and Princeton. 

Veeva highlighted the continued success of ongoing product development, including the release of Veeva Andi, an AI application that delivers
insights and suggestions from within Veeva CRM, and the adoption of its relatively new Veeva Vault CDMS offering by a Top Twenty Pharma. Also, Veeva recently introduced Veeva Claims, for non-pharma clients to help them with end-to-end claims management.

Veeva raised its revenue guidance for FY2020 to revenues between $1,045 and $1,050 million, a $20 million upward adjustment. Its shares broke through to a new high after the earnings release and now trade at $162.20, giving Veeva a market value of just under $24 billion, and a remarkable price to sales (not price to earnings) ratio of 24.

The intense pressure resulting from being a “momentum stock” now plagues Veeva, a nice problem to have. Investor expectations become more and more demanding, and even a slight negative surprise could cause a dramatic decline in the share price.

AT 12:33 AM  



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