Charles River spends $585M on WIL Research amid a buyout spree

Charles River CEO James Foster

Charles River Laboratories ($CRL) extended its run of acquisitions with a $585 million buyout of WIL Research, picking up a company the CRO said will expand its global footprint and bolster its manufacturing capabilities.

Through the cash deal, expected to close next quarter, Charles River gets a company focused on drug safety studies and contract development and manufacturing services, employing about 1,300 people in the U.S., Europe and Japan. For Charles River, which makes most of its money from preclinical testing, buying WIL expands its position in Europe, pads its client base, and adds new capabilities in bioanalysis and manufacturing, the company said.

WIL is expected to post 2014 revenue of around $215 million, Charles River said, a 9% increase over the prior at constant currency rates. Once the deal wraps up, Charles River expects WIL to add between $150 million and $170 million to its 2016 revenue and as much as $250 million in 2017.

"In addition to meeting our disciplined acquisition criteria, WIL Research is an exceptional strategic fit for Charles River because it incorporates the key attributes we require in an acquisition: high-quality services, scientific expertise, complementary capabilities and access to growing end markets," Charles River CEO James Foster said in a statement.

The buyout is Charles River's 5th in roughly 18 months, capping an acquisitive spree the CRO says has fortified its position in the market for outsourced drug development.

In November, Charles River traded $36 million for Oncotest, a German company offering discovery and validation services in the field of oncology. Months before, the company spent $212 million on Celsis, which is focused on quality-control testing, and in 2014 Charles River paid $179 million for Argenta and BioFocus, two discovery-minded service providers formerly owned by Galapagos ($GLPG). In late 2014, the company shelled out $52 million for ChanTest, an Ohio outfit that specializes in ion channel testing for early-stage drug development.

With all the dealmaking, Charles River expects its yet-to-be-announced 2015 revenue to come in about 10% above the prior year at constant currency.

- read the statement