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Simbec Research and Orion Clinical Services Merge

The merger of Simbec Research, the specialist CRO in Early Stage Clinical Development, and ORION Clinical Services, the specialist CRO in Late Stage Clinical Development, is tremendous news for the clinical research sector, the merged company and its employees and Wales.

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The Simbec-Orion Group will be a full service international contract research organisation (CRO) with capabilities in both Early Stage Clinical Development and Late Stage Clinical Development with deep expertise in oncology and rare and orphan diseases.  The Group, with combined revenues of approximately £25m, employs approximately 250 staff and has operations across Europe, Australia and the United States together with capabilities in multiple other territories. Simbec-Orion will maintain its headquarters in the UK based in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales.

Simbec-Orion will offer its current 65 large and mid-cap pharmaceutical and biotech clients a complete service offering from first in human exploratory clinical pharmacology studies, through Phase II and Phase III studies.  Currently the Group has approximately 90 clinical trials running for clients.  In addition, the Group offers its clients Phase IV post authorisation studies for marketing, observational and post authorisation safety studies (“PASS”).

The merger was completed through the provision of £12.5m of funds raised from the Welsh Arthurian Life Sciences Fund and HSBC Bank plc’s West and Wales Corporate team.

My investment management team at Arthurian Life Sciences first backed Simbec in 2013.  Together with HSBC we are delighted to be leading this transaction and look forward to supporting further acquisitions for the new combined Simbec-Orion Group. There is no shortage of targets which would be an excellent fit for what is a world-leading  CRO.

This is also a proud moment for Wales in that it will be retaining the worldwide HQ for the company and it shows what can be achieved in the life sciences sector. I will be delighted to serve as a non-executive director on the board of Simbec-Orion.

Professor Sir Chris Evans



Simbec buys its way into late-stage R&D with Orion deal

June 23, 2014 | By Damian Garde

Welsh CRO Simbec Research is expanding beyond its focus on early-phase studies, buying up Orion Clinical Services in a move the company says will make it a full-service organization.

The roughly $21.3 million deal will create a combined entity with Phase I-IV capabilities, 250 employees around the world and nearly $43 million in annual revenue, the companies said. The two will do business as Simbec-Orion, take up the former company’s Welsh headquarters while maintaining operations across Europe, Australia and the U.S.

Together, Simbec-Orion has a client roster of 65 large- and mid-cap pharma and biotech companies, and the group has about 90 working studies around the world. The combined company has plans to expand from there, promising to “rapidly pursue further acquisitions” on the hunt for more revenue sources.

“Simbec is proud of its 30-year history of excellence in early-stage clinical development,” Chairman Trevor Jones said in a statement. “We are delighted to complete the merger with Orion, which takes our Welsh-headquartered company onto an international stage and expands its capability into late-stage clinical development.”

The deal follows Simbec’s efforts to strike out on its own, as the CRO used an investment from the Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund to acquire itself from Canada’s Altasciences Group last year.

The Welsh Arthurian Life Sciences Fund, backed by biotech entrepreneur Sir Chris Evans, pitched in to help Simbec buy Orion, and Evans will serve as non-executive board director for the combined company.



Biotech veteran back on deal trail

Matthew Goodman Published: 22 June 2014

BIOTECH entrepreneur Sir Chris Evans is spearheading the creation of a new force in clinical research for novel drugs.

Simbec Research, a specialist in conducting early-stage trials on behalf of big pharmaceutical companies, and backed by Evans, is to merge with rival Orion Clinical Services, which carries out later-stage tests.

The enlarged group is expected to pursue further acquisitions in an attempt to become a key player in its field. Evans said: “This is a very good area for consolidation. There are scores of targets, varying from £1m businesses to £80m businesses.”

The market is fragmented with estimates suggesting that there are about 750 companies world-wide working on outsourced drug trials.

Evans will become a non-executive director of the combined research business, which will be run by Ronald Openshaw, the former boss of Plethora, a London-listed healthcare company. Simbec-Orion will be chaired by Trevor Jones, a former director of the Wellcome Foundation.

The merger has been funded with £12.5m from the Arthurian Life Sciences Fund, an Evans vehicle set up to manage the Welsh government’s commitments to the biotech industry, and HSBC.

Simbec-Orion will employ 250 staff and is expected to generate sales this year of about £25m. Bosses hope to grow that to £100m. Its client list stretches to about 65 drug developers, including the largest firms in the industry.