U.K. CRO conglomerate bags another testing outfit with eyes on toxicology

Concept Life Sciences, a CRO pieced together through a string of acquisitions, has inked a deal to acquire a toxicology-focused contractor, looking to expand its palate of drug development services.

The company bought CXR Biosciences, a Scotland-headquartered company that specializes in safety screening and candidate selection for drugmakers. CXR will retain its name and operate as a subsidiary of Concept, with CEO Paul Smith staying on to lead the unit.

The buyout marks Concept's fourth merger since Equistone Partners formed the company last year. The CRO is the result of about $100 million in deals that brought in Peakdale Molecular, Resource & Environmental Consultants and Scientific Analysis Laboratories, three U.K. testing outfits with client rosters across the sciences.

Concept now employs more than 600 people at 11 U.K. sites, and the company is plotting to expand further into continental Europe over the coming year. The CRO has been steadily growing its client base over the past 12 months, and Executive Chairman Michael Fort said Concept has its eye on more deals to keep up the momentum.

"We plan to continue to complement that growth with a series of carefully selected strategic acquisitions, thus adding significant value and expertise to the group," Fort said in a statement. "At the time of launch, we laid out ambitious plans to build a comprehensive suite of niche, high-value, problem-solving services for our life science customer base. With the addition of market-leading organizations such as CXR, we are more than achieving those plans."

- read the statement (PDF)