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Chiltern consolidates ownership after Kester Capital sells stake

By Dan Stanton+

19-Dec-2013
Last updated on 19-Dec-2013 at 13:52 GMT

A private equity investor has sold its stake in CRO Chiltern leading to a restructured ownership the firm says will encourage expansion.

Kester Capital - formerly Greenhill Capital Partners - announced it had sold its interest in Chiltern to a group of existing investors, led by Sir Douglas Myers, on Tuesday. 

While Kester did not disclose the size of its investment in Chiltern - which it has held since 2010 - its disclosure document did reveal that the research contractiong firm is worth around £135m ($221).

Chiltern CEO Jim Esinhart said that the firm's new ownership structure will allow firm to expand further and develop within key target markets, adding that the company’s mission has not changed.

“This investment will allow us to continue to invest in organic growth and explore external acquisition opportunities,” he said.

Chiltern experienced revenue growth of over 16% for 2012 compared to the year prior, and the mid-tiered CRO said this new investment will allow Chiltern to maintain this growth and to continue moving forward.

Private equity exit

Private finance groups are no strangers to contract research organisations (CROs) with twelve US-based CROs being acquired in the last three years, according to financial experts at a recent PCT meeting in Vienna, Austria.

Attracted by the high growth rates, Michael Martorelli - Director of Fairmount Partners - said CROs were an obvious choice for investment, though warned firms would have to be prepared for inevitable exit strategies.

"PE firms have to exit its CRO investments within the next five years” he said, warning that “trees do not grow to the sky” and whilst the overall industry may be in a boom there are still a number of 'potential landmines' that could overturn both individual companies and the wider market. 

Chiltern did not respond to Outsourcing-pharma.com's request for further information.

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