Parexel Looks to Acquire Technology, Consulting Companies

By Zachary Brennan

- Last updated on GMT

Parexel Looks to Acquire Technology, Consulting Companies

Related tags: Middle east, Parexel

Parexel says it is looking to acquire technology or consulting companies and may select a small firm in the Middle East or Turkey.

Parexel is currently considering between 15 and 20 potential acquisitions per month, James Winschel, CFO of Parexel, said at the Citi 2013 Global Healthcare Conference last week in New York.

He added that the most likely areas for expansion of the company are in technology or consulting. And such an acquisition would be designed to boost either the company’s consulting and medical communications services segment, or its Perceptive Informatics segment.

In terms of areas of coverage, Winschel said the company is covering all of the therapeutic, clinical development and geographic areas that Parexel is interested in, other than a possible “small expansion​” into the Middle East or Turkey.

Although he was quick to add that there probably would not be “anything new” in this region in terms of preclinical or clinical business.

Parexel’s most recent is Liquent​, a regulatory information management software company, which it bought for $72m in January to expand its IT offering. Liquent has since become a part of the Perceptive segment and Winschel said he expects technology from that segment to be a driver of the company’s growth. The only other acquisition Parexel has made since 2008 was its $182m purchase of Clinphone​, an eClinical technology company, in July 2008.

Despite the optimism on its acquisition front, analysts in late January expressed scepticism​ about the spending levels of the CRO (contract research organization) following its quarterly report. The growth of contractors and high levels of hiring also left some analysts questioning well Parexel will be able to improve its margins in fiscal year 2013.

But Winschel did mention that a lot of the companies that Parexel has approached have offered extraordinarily high prices for a buyout and negotiations did not continue.

Pfizer Middle East Expansion

In addition to Parexel's search for a company in the Middle East, the region is also becoming a hotbed for manufacturing investments. Last week, Pfizer announced that it was about to begin construction on a new pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia. The campus of facilities is set to be operational in 2015 and will include solid dose manufacturing, packaging and warehousing facilities.

At full capacity the facilities will produce 18 million packs per year, including a range of Pfizer’s medicines currently being exported to Saudi Arabia. 

The expansion in manufacturing capacity in the Middle East comes as the world's most famous pharma company has shifted gears and downsized its research capacity. The company recently shuttered clinical research facilities in Singapore​ and San Diego​. 

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