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LabCorp to Acquire Specialty CRO Chiltern for $1.2B

NEW YORK (360Dx) – Laboratory Corporation of America announced today that it will acquire specialty contract research organization Chiltern for roughly $1.2 billion in cash.

According to LabCorp, Chiltern brings a strong presence among emerging-to-mid biopharma customers, as well as expertise in early-stage drug development, medical device development, and oncology. It also offers robust functional service provider (FSP) solutions and an endpoint suite of interactive response technology.

Chiltern has more than 4,500 employees globally, and forecasts 2017 revenues of approximately $550 million, adjusted EBITDA of about $95 million, and a backlog of roughly $1 billion, LabCorp said. The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter, after which Chiltern will become part of LabCorp's Covance unit.

"This acquisition strengthens our position as a leading life sciences company that delivers innovative diagnostics and drug development solutions to improve health and improve lives," LabCorp Chairman and CEO David King said in a statement. "Our acquisition of Covance has demonstrated the value of combining diagnostic and CRO capabilities, expertise, data, and leadership. The addition of Chiltern furthers our strategy and will provide us with enhanced capabilities across a broader client base as we continue to innovate and grow."

LabCorp said that combination of Covance and Chiltern will create a CRO business with approximately 11,000 employees in the Americas; 7,100 employees in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; and 2,400 employees in the Asia-Pacific region. The combined company offers strong growth potential across all client segments, it added.

"Since LabCorp acquired Covance, we have grown the CRO business to nearly $3 billion in annual revenue," Covance CEO John Ratliff said in a statement. "The addition [of Chiltern] enhances Covance's offerings as a major partner serving the top 20 biopharma segment and expands our current offering to include a dedicated focus on the high-growth emerging and mid-market biopharma segments."

Excluding one-time costs relating to the transaction and with the benefit of cost synergies, LabCorp said it expects the deal to be accretive to adjusted earnings per share and free cash flow in year one, and to earn its cost of capital by year three. The all-cash deal is expected to be funded with a combination of bank financing and bonds.

In a note to investors, Evercore ISI analyst Ross Muken said that in addition to helping LabCorp bulk up its presence with small-to-medium sized biopharmas, the acquisition provides a more significant footprint in Asia — a market LabCorp management has cited as an area of expansion interest. Further, Chiltern brings "much needed FSP expertise ... which has been an area of increased interest and outsized growth over the past several quarters from a customer standpoint," he wrote.