CRO Chiltern snags rival Ockham to bolster its oncology footprint

Chiltern has acquired Ockham, a fellow contract researcher, planning to absorb the company's capabilities and expand its service offerings.

Without disclosing terms of the deal, Chiltern said Ockham's expertise in oncology will help it diversify its business, and, once the merger is complete, the CRO will split its operations into three segments. Chiltern Oncology will host its acquired business, while Chiltern Biopharmaceutics will be home to its multiphase development and Chiltern Source will offer transactional research through a functional service provider model.

The combined company will operate under the Chiltern name, with CEO James Esinhart maintaining his role and former Ockham boss James Baker becoming chief development officer.

"This merger is a natural progression toward our strategic goal of becoming the premier, specialized, mid-tier CRO," Esinhart said in a statement. "... There is a perfect strategic fit between our companies and I'm excited to work with the entire Ockham team to ensure a seamless continuation in the delivery of high quality services to all of the combined company's clients."

Chiltern's reach into oncology complements its existing expertise in respiratory, ophthalmology, infectious disease, vaccines and dermatology, the company said, and integrating Ockham will bolster its standing among small and midsize biotechs.

The top-heavy CRO space has only further consolidated over the past few years, in part because the largest players have come to see the value of working with emerging drug developers. Quintiles ($Q) shelled out for Novella Clinical last year in an effort to expand its services designed for small drugmakers, and KKR's mega-CRO includes CRI Lifetree, which makes its money assisting emerging companies.

Since its foundation in 1982, Chiltern has grown to employ about 2,100 people in 40 countries, the company said.

- read the announcement

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