Contract research organization Clinipace Worldwide has tripled its European operations by acquiring a 260-employee company based in Frankfurt, Germany.
The acquisition of Accovion, announced Monday, gives privately held Clinipace about 960 employees worldwide, including about 390 in Europe. Financial details of the deal weren’t disclosed.
Clinipace CEO Jeff Williams said the Morrisville-based company has been seeking to expand its operations in both Eastern and Western Europe – and Accovion, which was spun out of pharmaceutical company Aventis in 2002 and has “a stellar reputation,” fits the bill.
“We’ve been building out a European presence for the last almost five years now,” Williams said. “But we’ve felt the need to augment it in certain geographies.”
The acquisition expands Clinipace’s footprint to eight additional countries: Russia, Italy, Czech Republic, Romania, Poland, Spain, France and Ukraine.
Williams said the acquisition will also enable Clinipace to provide biostatistical analysis and programming and data management services “in the same time zone,” rather than relying on its U.S. operations to provide such services as it has until now.
Contract research organizations such as Clinipace help pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies conduct clinical trials of experimental drugs and analyze the results.
Clinipace’s European operations will be integrated into the Accovion operation, which in turn “will be rebranded Clinipace over the next 12 months,” Williams said.
The CEO of Accovion, Andree Beckerling, has been named head of Clinipace’s European operations and will report to Williams.
“Nobody is losing any jobs,” Williams said. “Everybody is being retained.”
Since 2009, Clinipace has purchased a half-dozen companies.
“It’s important to be a one-stop, full-service CRO,” said John Crumpler, a general partner at Durham venture capital firm Hatteras Venture Partners, which is an investor in Clinipace. “That is what we have become with these acquisitions and our organic growth.”
Clinipace posted $82 million in revenue in 2014, up 40 percent from 2013, with roughly half of that increase coming from acquisitions and half from organic growth.
“It’s important to have the economies that a larger CRO brings,” said Crumpler, noting that Clinipace’s proprietary technology platform for conducting clinical trials and managing the various processes was built for scale. “There is a real value to being the right size.”
But Clinipace’s appetite for acquisitions hasn’t been sated.
“We are definitely looking at some other things,” Williams said.
In January, Clinipace announced that it had raised $50 million in financing led by Virgo Investment Group, a California-based private equity firm, to finance future acquisitions.
“We’re going to go through it pretty quickly,” Williams said. “That was the plan.”
However, he added, Virgo has made an open-ended commitment to fund additional acquisitions as well.
“They like our story,” Williams said. “They like our space.”
That space – the CRO industry – is centered in the Triangle. The Triangle is home to three of the world’s largest CROs – Quintiles, which ranks first in size, PRA Health Sciences and INC Research – and boasts more CRO employees than anywhere else.