Wil Research

Charles River Laboratories International Inc. (NYSE: CRL) plans to acquire Wil Research, which provides services to biopharmaceutical and industrial chemical companies, for about $585 million in cash.

According to Wilmington, Massachusetts-based Charles River, acquiring the company will help Charles River’s position as an early-stage contract research organization by strengthening its ability to work with more clients globally in the area of drug discovery and development. Wil Research provides safety assessment and contract development and manufacturing services. Charles River provides products and services to clients in the drug research and development business, including pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. With headquarters in Ashland, Ohio, Wil Research has offices in The Netherlands, France, the U.K. and Japan. 

Charles River CEO James Foster says that Wil Research gives his company access to growing markets, expand its access to Europe and improve its scientific capabilities. The acquisition will also help Charles River build out its existing services in other regions, expand its biotech client base, add new specialty services in safety assessment and bioanalysis, which will help the company access biopharma clients in the early-stage drug research pipeline.

Charles River has been in an acquisition mode since at least 2014. In July 2015, Charles River acquired Celsis International Limited, a provider of medical measuring equipment, for $212 million. In 2014, the company acquired BioFocus DPI PLC in the U.K., a provider of drug discovery services and products, for $185.9 million and ChanTest Corp. of Cleveland, a provider of drug development testing services, for $54 million.

Recent middle-market pharmaceutical deals include: The creation of a new pharma acquisitions platform in January, Phoenix Therapeutics, by Carlyle Group (Nasdaq: CG) and Bourne Partners, an investment bank focused on the health care sector; the acquisition of an anti-nausea drug from Galena Biopharma Inc. (Nasdaq:GALE) by Midatech Pharma (AIM:MTPH) (Nasdaq:MTP) in December; an announced acquisition by Perrigo Co. plc (NYSE: PRGO) of generic forms of Retin-A—the anti-aging skin treatment--from Matawan Pharmaceuticals LLC in December; Eiger BioPharmaceuticals Inc.’s agreement in November to acquire a majority interest in Celladon Corporation (Nasdaq:CLDN) for $39.5 million; and Perrigo’s agreement in November to buy Entocort, a Crohn’s disease drug, from AstraZeneca plc (LON: AZN) for $380 million.

For more on cross-border deals, see Transatlantic Transactions.

Wells Fargo Securities, LLC is acting as the financial advisor to Charles River. Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP is acting as Charles River’s transactional legal counsel and Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider LLP is acting as antitrust counsel. Harris Williams & Co. is acting as the lead financial advisor to Wil Research, with Houlihan Lokey serving as a co-advisor. King & Spalding is acting as Wil Research’s transactional legal counsel and Arnold & Porter LLP is acting as antitrust counsel.

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