One Equity Partners (OEP), the private equity arm of JPMorgan Chase, is in the process of selling its stake in Quintiles for a reported sum of over $3bn.
Global private investment firm Bain Capital will come on board as a new major investor, with UK private equity firm 3i Group also becoming a significant investor and existing investor TPG Capital is contributing additional equity to the firm, it was announced by Quintiles.
The deal is expected to close this month, after which point Quintiles chairman and CEO Dennis Gillings, Bain Capital and TPG Capital will jointly operate as the lead investors in the company.
Another existing investor, Singapore's Temasek Holdings, along with 3i, will hold lesser stakes.
The exact composition of the new partnership remains hazy, Quintiles failed to return a request for comment.
Quintiles is the world's largest contract research organisation (CRO) and has been under private ownership since 2003 when company management, led by Gillings, paid $1.7bn for the business in conjunction with One Equity. TPG Capital and to a lesser degree, Temasek also came on board as investors at the time.
Since the buyout, the CRO industry in which it plays has caught on fire, as biopharma companies' spending on these outsourcing services continues to soar.
The total market is now estimated at $14bn, and expected to grow at an annual rate of 14 to 16 per cent, to reach $24bn by 2010, according to market research firm Business Insights.
The pressure facing pharma firms to reduce time-to-market of new drugs coupled with a curb on spending has forced the pharma industry to adopt outsourcing as one of several alternative approaches to maintain productivity and profitability and bring new drugs to market more quickly.
According to Business Insights, clinical trials conducted by CROs are completed up to 30 per cent more quickly than those conducted in-house by pharma companies. The larger ones in particular also provide substantial global capacity to drug developers, and the smaller ones can offer niche services that many pharma firms can not perform in-house.
As a result, the reliance on services providers and in particular CROs has rocketed in the past few years and they have become critical contributors to clinical activity.
In the CRO space, Quintiles is the biggest player with 14 per cent of the global market share, followed by Covance and PPD, holding 10 per cent each. Meanwhile, the five largest CROs have increased their market share and now hold 45 per cent of the total market.