BioClinica preps for another merger as CRO consolidation marches on

BioClinica CEO Mark Weinstein

Another year, another merger for BioClinica as the once-public CRO prepares to combine its operations with CCBR-Synarc, a specialized clinical services outfit.

Under the agreement, the imaging- and recruitment-focused CCBR-Synarc will add its expertise to BioClinica's existing capabilities in clinical trial management and electronic data transfer. Combined, the two privately held companies will form a market leader in imaging, patient recruitment, clinical trial technology and central lab services, the CROs said. Neither firm is disclosing financial details, and the deal is expected to close this quarter.

BioClinica CEO Mark Weinstein will maintain the top spot once the two have merged, while inVentiv Health Vice Chairman Jeffrey McMullen will step in to serve as chairman of the combined company.

"This is a ground-breaking merger that will bring together two of the industry's most experienced providers of specialized clinical trial services," McMullen said in a statement. "Combining CCBR-SYNARC and BioClinica into a single company will offer customers exceptional scientific expertise and sophisticated technologies to support their drug development processes and accelerate the pace of their innovation."

Last year, private equity firm JLL Partners snapped up BioClinica for $123 million and subsequently merged it with CoreLab Partners, owned by Ampersand Capital Partners, which kept its stake in the combined company. Now, CCBR-Synarc owner Water Street Healthcare Partners is hanging on to its stake in the CRO, creating a private equity triumvirate at the reins of the new BioClinica.

The deal comes amid a rush of private equity interest in CROs, headlined by KKR and its multibillion-dollar deal to snatch and merge PRA, ReSearch Pharmaceutical Services and CRI Lifetree, rolling them into what it calls the world's fourth-largest pharma contractor. That deal follows Carlyle and Hellman & Friedman's $3.9 billion acquisition of PPD in 2011 and a $1.1 billion leveraged buyout that took inVentiv off the public market the same year.

- read the announcement