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Equistone sells global life sciences firm for £163m

26 Jan 2018

Equistone Partners Europe has completed the sale of Concept Life Sciences to London Stock Exchange-listed productivity-enhancing instrumentation and controls company Spectris (LSE: SXS) for £163m.

Concept Life Sciences provides integrated drug discovery, development, analytical testing and environmental consulting services to an international customer base mainly in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, agrochemical and environmental sectors.

The Manchester-headquartered company was initially formed in July 2014 with backing from mid-market private equity firm Equistone Partners Europe. The investment provided the business with a platform to make acquisitions and develop into a world leading contract research and testing organisation focused on delivering scientific solutions to the global life sciences sector.

Concept Life Sciences had pro-forma revenue (including the full-year impact of acquisitions) of £48.7m in the year ending December 2017. It employs more than 700 full time staff, including over 500 scientists working across 11 state-of-the art laboratories.

During Equistone’s investment period, the Group has grown organically and made a number of acquisitions to optimise its service offering, most recently announcing the bolt-on of Aquila Biomedical, an Edinburgh-based research company with expertise in translational biology and immuno therapies.

This acquisition by Spectris will add test service capabilities to the company’s Materials Analysis division, where it has strong synergies with the activities of Malvern Panalytical, especially in the pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical and agrochemical markets. These markets are expected to continue to grow as a result of increasing regulation, the complexity of pharmaceutical R&D and investments in new therapies, particularly protein-based pharmaceuticals.

Steve O’Hare, Senior Partner at Equistone Partners Europe, said: “It has been a pleasure working with Michael Fort, Paul McCluskey and the rest of the management team to develop a new Group that is now regarded as a leader in the global life sciences sector. The team has achieved consistently strong growth over the last three years through both organic growth with new and existing service offerings supported by strategic acquisitions. We are confident that the integration with Spectris will support the company’s ongoing strategy during its next phase of development.”

Michael Fort, Executive Chairman at Concept Life Sciences, said: “Equistone has done a fantastic job in helping us to grow the business and execute our buy-and-build strategy. It has been an exciting journey and we have successfully strengthened our capabilities across the agrochemical, environmental and life sciences sectors, as well as entering new markets in Europe and the US. This puts us in a strong position for future growth and we are delighted to become part of the wider Spectris business.”

John O’Higgins, Chief Executive at Spectris, added: “Concept Life Sciences is a high-quality services business, which further strengthens our portfolio and enhances our ability to provide customers within the pharmaceutical, life sciences and advanced materials sectors with a combined product and service proposition.”

Equistone and management shareholders were advised by Rothschild and Addleshaw Goddard.

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