Icon plc has completed the $143.5 million purchase of Aptiv Solutions, underscoring the heightened M&A activity among pharmaceutical companies.

Aptiv, headquartered in Reston, Virgina, designs clinical trials for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. The company was sold by private equity firm the Halifax Group, venture capital firm SV Life Sciences and PE firm Comvest Partners. 

The transaction comes as more pharmaceutical companies look to outsource manufacturing as they focus more on drug development, marketing and filling product pipelines with emerging biotech companies. (For more on the trend, see Experts Corner: Pursuing Pharma Manufacturing and The Buyside: Mid-Market Pharma Firms Vie for Targets.)

Dublin-based Icon, which provides outsourced services to  pharmaceutical and medical device companies, plans to integrate Niphix, an oncology-focused service that Aptiv provides, into the company's Tokyo and Osaka operations. The company also intends to integrate Aptiv with Icon's existing technology services, such as Firecrest, which it bought in 2011 for undisclosed terms, and Iconik.

The Halifax Group, headquartered in Washington, D.C., focuses on investing in lower middle market business. The firm created Aptiv in 2011 by combining six pharmaceutical companies.

Halifax's recent transactions include portfolio company Envision Pharma Group's purchase of medical writing company ProScribein February, and  sale of PJ United, which owns Papa John's pizza restaurants, in January.

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