PRA winds up for IPO

Perhaps encouraged by the success of its North Carolina neighbor Quintiles ($Q), PRA is making moves toward an IPO of its own, filing a confidential draft registration form with the SEC.

The CRO is yet to determine how many shares it will offer and at what price, but PRA said it plans to use the proceeds to pay down debt, take care of expenses and cover general corporate purposes. If all goes according to plan, PRA's IPO will kick off immediately following the SEC's review process, but the CRO isn't providing a timeline.

If PRA follows through on its plan, it will return to the stock market for the first time since 2007, when current owner Genstar Capital bought it for about $790 million.

As the Raleigh News-Observer points out, PRA's confidential filing allows it to test the water for its stock without disclosing its financials. Under the recently enacted Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, companies with annual revenue below $1 billion can start the IPO process without coming clean on all their results, thus giving PRA all the buzz of a soon-to-be IPO with none of the risks inherent in letting competitors in on its balance sheet.

PRA employs about 5,000 people in more than 30 countries, and the company has been working to expand its presence abroad over the past year, acquiring Eastern European CRO ClinStar in March and launching a joint venture in China with WuXi PharmaTech ($WX), the country's largest CRO. 

- read PRA's release
- check out the News-Observer story