New start for Cerba European lab. The French specialist of the medical tests officially fell yesterday in the PAI Partners anyway. The French investment company did not hesitate to put some 500 million euros on the table ("Les Echos" from May 26) and its offer has been accepted.
IK Investment Partners Fund, which was the majority shareholder of Cerba since 2006 alongside Astorg and tandem management-biologists (25 of the shares), carries out the passage a comfortable capital gain since Cerba was valued around 150 million four years earlier.
"In four years, we have helped the group to be transformed by participating in the first step in the consolidation of European biology movement.". "Our growth objectives being exceeded, we decided to have a new partner," says Dan Soudry, partner at IK Investment Partners.
Indeed, Cerba crossed the borders of the hexagon by acquiring in 2007 the Belgian group BARC, this initially in the area of routine analyses, before to develop tests related to clinical trials. 100 Million euros in 2006, the turnover of Cerba in was increased to 70 million.
"The order issued in January suggests that the profession to consolidate." "In view of the changes expected in the French market, we decided to redirect our strategy and grow in biology from city by acquiring laboratories for routine analyses", details Catherine Courboillet, President of the Executive Board.
A logic which led Cerba to acquire Biolille, one of its biggest customers, in April 2009 that realized 20 million in sales, with 170 people. A year later, the Group offered the marseillais Biotop (13 million sales and 120 persons) and a new transaction must be announced in a few weeks.
"We want to partner with regional leaders who have a recognized professional ethics." "Our goal is to be present in a dozen of French regions by 2015," said Catherine Courboillet. EUR 230 million in 2009, sales of the Group should reach 250 million this year, of which 35 made abroad.
Projects in Eastern Europe
Beyond the consolidation of the French market, Cerba wants also grow in clinical trials. The group already has international locations (New York, Shanghai, South Africa, Australia). Cerba must also settle soon in Singapore and studied projects in Eastern Europe to move closer to patients recruited for testing.
However, the group does not envisage to strengthen specialized analyses. When Biomnis, its only competitor in France in this sector, has been on sale in 2008, Cerba certainly looked the folder without going further. Conversely, Biomnis (229 million euros of turnover in 2009), ownership of the Duke Street Fund, has been interested recently in Cerba, but this track was quickly abandoned, the management of the Group wishing to keep its independence.
In fact, vendors, advised by Rothschild, have had the choice and PAI had to file a "pre-emptive offer" for getting ahead of competitors such as AXA, KKR or Cinven.
"At the time where we want to develop in the Hexagon, PAI seems to us the best partner." "This French institutional actor is experienced and specialized in the investment sector consolidation", provides Catherine Courboillet. For the new shareholder, it is not participation of short term, but rather a project in five years. "Beyond the amount fixed for the signing, we intend to invest very significantly to help Cerba to densify the territorial mesh," says Frédéric Stévenin, partner at PAI.