Thermo to buy PPD for US$17.4b as health deals soar

[MASSACHUSETTS] Thermo Fisher Scientific has agreed to acquire PPD a provider of clinical and research services to the pharma and biotech industries, for US$17.4 billion as health-care dealmaking soars amid the pandemic.

Thermo Fisher will pay US$47.50 a share for PPD, according to a statement on Thursday, and will assume about US$3.5 billion of debt. The price represents a premium of about 24 per cent to the PPD closing price Tuesday, before reports of a possible deal.

The drug-testing field has become a hotbed of activity as the pandemic runs into its second year. Companies around the world are seeking to roll out new Covid-19 drugs and vaccines, even as they continue with their more standard business lines of developing new cancer therapies and other treatments.

Health-care dealmaking has also been on a tear, with companies announcing more than US$160 billion of transactions this year - almost three times the volume in the same period of 2020. In February, Icon agreed to acquire PRA Health Sciences in a contract-research deal valued at about US$12 billion.

PPD was taken public by investors Carlyle Group and Hellman & Friedman in February 2020. The two private equity firms are still its largest shareholders, holding 38 per cent and 16 per cent of the stock respectively, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

PPD has worked with Gilead Sciences on studies of Covid drug remdesivir and on research involving Roche Holding's Actemra as a treatment for the pandemic, according to its website.



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