PPD reportedly on the block for $8B

The private equity owners of CRO giant PPD are looking to either sell the company or take it public, according to Reuters, moves that would follow a trend in the pharma contracting industry.

Citing sources close to the discussions, Reuters reported that the Carlyle Group and Hellman & Friedman, PPD's owners, have consulted with investment bankers about getting the ball rolling on a sale or IPO that would value the company at between $7 billion and $8 billion. The idea is to pursue both options in tandem, according to Reuters, running an auction while filing to go public and then choosing whichever path is most valuable. PPD has said that it does not comment on market rumors, per company policy.

If a deal goes through, PPD would become the latest example of private equity firms cashing in on the CRO boom. In 2013, Quintiles' ($Q) owners steered the company to a $950 million IPO and have raked in proceeds over the ensuing years through a series of follow-on offerings. The financiers behind PRA Health Sciences ($PRAH), Catalent ($CTLT) and INC Research ($INCR) have since followed suit, selling off shares for cash after taking their companies public.

Carlyle and Hellman & Friedman took PPD private through a $3.9 billion deal in 2011, and the company has spent the years since signing deals to expand its global presence. Last year, PPD bought out the discovery-focused outfit X-Chem in an acquisition designed to bolster its early-stage expertise.

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