KKR the US-based investment firm that last June acquired clinical research organisation PRA International from Genstar Capital, has made another sally into the CRO market with a definitive agreement to take over ReSearch Pharmaceutical Services (RPS) from its private-equity owner, Warburg Pincus.

Once both transactions have closed, KKR (Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) intends to merge PRA with RPS, putting PRA’s chief executive officer, Colin Shannon, in charge of the combined operation.

As with the PRA deal, no financial terms were disclosed for the RPS acquisition, which is subject to regulatory approvals and other closing conditions and is expected to wrap up in the third quarter of 2013.

Post-merger, RPS will continue to operate independently as PRA’s newly

formed Strategic Solutions Division, under the leadership of existing RPS president Harris Koffer and Executive Vice President Samir Shah, KKR noted.

Dan Perlman, the current chief executive officer of RPS, has agreed to leave the company “to pursue other interests outside the CRO industry”.

Next step

A US-based contract research organisation founded in 1998 and offering comprehensive Phase I-IV services, RPS has more than 4,000 employees spread over some 64 countries.

According to Koffer, the KKR deal and coming merger with PRA are “the next step” in the evolution of RPS and its Embedded service model.

The transaction will bring together “two highly complementary companies with PRA as a leader in traditional programmatic outsourced clinical development and RPS as a pioneer of the innovative Embedded clinical development model,” commented Jim Momtazee, head of KKR’s Health Care investing team.

Together, the two companies “will become an even stronger organisation with significant opportunities for continued growth and innovation”, Momtazee added.