Three years after pivoting out of disaster, Vectura gets a $1.4B private equity buyout
Three years ago, after a second of Vectura’s Phase III candidates crashed and burned, the British biotech decided that, you know, maybe this whole drug development thing wasn’t for them. They hired a new CEO from Catalent and announced they would focus on just helping manufacture the drugs that other companies developed.
That shift has now paid off handsomely. Vectura announced Wednesday that the private equity firm Carlyle Group agreed to buy them out for $1.4 billion, or a 32% premium on the company’s market value entering today. The price per share, $161, is more than double what Vectura $VEC traded for in winter of 2018, before they rebranded as a CDMO.
For Carlyle, Vectura adds to a growing stable of biotech and drug development services the firm has built up over the last decade, since it acquired PPD, the massive CRO, for $3.9 billion in 2011. In 2017, they spent nearly a $1 billion for the CRO AMRI, and added a majority stake in TriNetX three years later. Last month, they shelled out $435 million for Unchained Labs and their line of gene therapy and vaccine services.
Vectura, having tried to developed asthma and COPD drugs, specializes in inhaled medicines. Now led by former Catalent exec Will Downie, they promise to help drugmakers formulate their molecules for inhalers or nebulizers, while offering services to help companies scale up their manufacturing processes and analyze their finished products.
Late last year, they announced plans to expand their UK facilities to tackle a broader range of services.
The company already works with Bayer, Novartis, and GlaxoSmithKline — against whom they recently won a $90 million court battle — among others. Simon Dingemans, managing director of Carlyle’s European buyout advisory group, argued the buyout would allow them to expand further.
“We have followed the strategic changes underway at Vectura closely and fully support the focus on building a market leading inhalation specialist CDMO,” he said. “We believe that under Carlyle’s ownership Vectura will be able to accelerate its transformation significantly with greater access to capital and the support of our long experience in the sector.”