£18.1 mln sale of Synexus

Deals

Bosses of north west clinical research business Synexus have agreed to sell the company to a private equity outfit for £18.1 million.

Lyceum Capital, based in London, has offered 78p a share for the AIM-listed firm via Sigma Acquisitions, a vehicle it has created for the takeover. Synexus recruits patients for trials of drugs to treat cancer, obesity, diabetes, arthritis and other conditions. The company, which listed in November, 2005, at 65p a share, is based in Chorley and has centers in Manchester and Wigan. It operates from 13 sites in six countries, following a string of acquisitions, and employs more than 150 people.

Led by CEO Michael Fort, Synexus pursued a buy-and-build strategy after it floated, with swoops in Hungary, Poland and South Africa, and its shares soared to a high of 104.5p earlier this year. However, it issued a profits warning in January, following delays to the start of several studies, and the shares slumped to 30p in September. Despite a rise in turnover from £9.5 million to £10.3 million in the year to March 31, profits tumbled from £1.2 million to £400,000.

Lyceum said it would provide funding for the acquisitions programme to resume and added that Sigma has received acceptances from investors holding 54.18% of the shares. The offer price represents a premium of 53% to the price of 51p a share on October 18, the day before Synexus announced it had received an approach. Yesterday shares surged 21%, or 13p, to 74.5p. Jeremy Hand, managing partner of Lyceum Capital, said: “Synexus is a great business. It operates in a growth market with a differentiated offering and has the potential to achieve significant and rapid expansion.”

Fort said: “This deal allows Synexus to complete its international roll-out plans and provide our customers with a truly competitive offering.” More than 32,000 patients visited Synexus clinics last year in trials for clients such as AstraZeneca, Novartis, Pfizer and Bayer. (manchestereveningnews)

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