LDC backs €44m Fishawack buyout to support ongoing growth strategy, in a deal advised by Clearwater International

Clearwater International has advised leading UK mid-market private equity investor LDC, on backing the management buyout of Fishawack Group Limited, the specialist provider of scientific communications services to global pharmaceutical companies. The deal values the business at €44m and LDC has committed further equity to accelerate Fishawack’s growth strategy, including potential acquisitions. It represents a strong exit for Growth Capital Partners (“GCP”) who supported the Management team in a secondary buyout in 2013.

Fishawack provides fully-integrated, cross-border services to global pharmaceutical organisations. It provides a variety of medical communications, market access and pharmacovigilance services to clients to drive the commercialisation of drug compounds. Its services are typically provided from phase II/III clinical trial stage through to post-approval and last for the full lifecycle of the patents on compounds.

The business operates across three sites in the UK, two in USA and one in Switzerland. It is contracted with 15 of the world’s top 20 pharmaceutical companies, including GSK, Sanofi and Novartis.

The investment is a tertiary buyout and will enable the Management team to accelerate its buy and build strategy through a number of targeted acquisitions over the medium term, in addition to supporting the growth of current client relationships.

Clearwater International’s head of TMT and Partner Carl Houghton, Directors Emma Rodgers and Wesley Fell-Smith, Senior Associate Daniel Rossington and Associate Kirsten Handley advised LDC on the transaction. Head of debt advisory and Partner Mark Taylor, and Director Tom Barnwell arranged the debt refinancing.

“Fishawack is LDC Manchester’s fifth deal over the last eight months, which has seen us invest over €100m of equity and follows over €300m of exit proceeds the team has generated over the same period. We are committed to invest at least €100m of equity in 2017, and investing in Fishawack, following ChargePoint earlier this month, underlines our intentions for the year.”

Jonathan Bell, Director and Co-Head of LDC Manchester

“With GCP’s support we have made significant progress with our growth strategy over the past few years and bringing LDC alongside us will enable us to build on this further as we aim to create the largest independent player serving the growing global medical affairs market. We have completed six acquisitions since inception and three with GCP, which has seen us bring in additional expertise, while also enhancing our geographical footprint in the key US market.

“We are an ambitious team and want to build on this further, continuing to strengthen our market-leading proposition and further building our presence internationally. In LDC we have a partner that is not only able to provide the financial backing we need to do this, but one that also has a strong track record in the pharmaceutical sector.”

Oliver Dennis, CEO of Fishawack

“We are delighted to have worked with the Fishawack management team over the last four years and after supporting three strategic acquisitions, to see the group more than double in size. We wish the team all the best for the future as they move to the next stage of their growth strategy and build scale across the impressive international group.”

Garrett Curran, Managing Partner at GCP

“Fishawack is already busy continuing the buy and build programme now with LDC’s backing. This talented team has proven beyond doubt that it can acquire and integrate effectively to constantly increase penetration into the world’s largest pharmacos. This skill was a huge attraction to LDC who we advised on the deal.”

Carl Houghton, head of TMT and Partner, Clearwater International

“The quality of the Fishawack business helped generate a significant amount of interest from the debt providers during the course of the transaction. European Capital displayed a genuine understanding of the business model from an early stage.  We therefore view them as the ideal partner for the shareholders as the business looks to fulfil its growth strategy, both within the UK and internationally.”

Mark Taylor, head of debt advisory and Partner, Clearwater International