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Clinipace buys PFC to further global expansion plan

By Nick Taylor , 18-May-2011
Last updated on 18-May-2011 at 11:17 GMT

Clinipace has made PFC Pharma Focus its third acquisition in 18 months and is planning more takeovers to expand geographic reach.

PFC marks Clinipace’s entry into the European CRO (contract research organisation) sector. Entering Europe is part of a geographic expansion strategy Clinipace initiated to give it the infrastructure to serve small to mid-tier clients.

It became apparent that a global footprint is needed to serve these companies”, Jeff Williams, CEO of Clinipace, told Outsourcing-Pharma. In response Clinipace added sites in the US and Latin America, and has now bought PFC to expand into Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

PFC has offices in Switzerland and Germany, staff, regional representatives and partners in other parts of Western and Central and Eastern Europe, and sites in Israel and India.

Clinipace will now begin the process of integrating these offices into its operations. PFC lacks particular technological expertise, which is one of the reasons Williams targeted it, so Clinipace will roll out the software that underpins its business.

The 65 staff at PFC will also be integrated into Clinipace, joining 85 people who already work at the company. Clinipace could add another 15 to 30 staff by the end of the year as new hires are made, said Williams. It is also possible that a further acquisition will add to staffing levels.

Acquisitions and the Goldilocks problem

Over the past year Clinipace has talked to a number of takeover targets, in the US as well as Europe, and continues to work towards making acquisitions to help it better serve its target clients.

I think there’s a Goldilocks problem for small to mid-tier biopharm”, said Williams, with CROs either being too big or too small to fully meet their needs. Clinipace is targeting this sector of the biopharm industry by occupying the space between mega CROs and niche players.

Geographic and therapeutic strength is part of this strategy. Clinipace strengthened in both these areas in 2009 when it acquired Worldwide Clinical Research, which had oncology expertise and Latin American sites.

Entering Asia

Now, by acquiring PFC Clinipace has gained a presence in Asia. The Indian office, a joint venture with US-based Excel Life Sciences, becomes Clinipace’s first site in Asia, but the CRO is already evaluating the region.

We’re running some projects through partners”, said Williams. Small and mid-tier sponsors are, like their larger counterparts, increasingly interested in performing clinical trials in Asia.

In 2011 Clinipace has added US and European regulatory capabilities to round out its service offering so future deals will on geographic reach and therapeutic expertise.

We’re not done at all”, said Williams.

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