ClinPhone, the UK-based clinical technology specialist that dived into the red last summer after operational difficulties put a hole in its forward order book and unfavourable currency fluctuations compounded the effect, has received and rejected takeover overtures from US contract research organisation (CRO) Parexel.

Noting the recent movement in ClinPhone’s share price, Parexel confirmed under the United Kingdom Takeover Code that it had “made a preliminary proposal to the Board of ClinPhone in relation to a potential offer by Parexel for the entire issued and to be issued share capital of ClinPhone”.

The news pushed up ClinPhone’s shares by nearly 17% on the London Stock Exchange last Friday.

Parexel said the preliminary proposal had been turned down by the ClinPhone board and it was “currently evaluating its options”. There could be no certainty that an offer for ClinPhone would materialise but if it did, it was likely to be cash-only, Parexel added.

Noting its rejection of Parexel's approach, ClinPhone stated: "The Board believes the indicated value materially undervalues the Company and its prospects".

The advances come shortly after ClinPhone insisted it was finding its feet again in the wake of its difficulties over the summer. Last month the UK company issued an interim management statement saying a restructuring plan launched last year to address the operational glitches had taken root more quickly than expected, putting ClinPhone in a “strong position” for the year ahead.

Parexel, which has been providing data capture (EDC) solutions for its clients’ clinical development programmes for more than a decade, recently became the latest CRO to sign up for ASPire to Win, the non-exclusive application service provider partnership run by US-based electronic specialist Medidata Solutions.

The company’s interest in ClinPhone shows just how crucial these technologies are becoming to an increasingly global and diversified clinical research market. According to Parexel’s US rival Kendle, worldwide revenues from eClinical trials are forecast to reach around $700 million by 2012, compared with just over US$200 million in 2005 and nearly $300 million in 2007.

In a CRO survey by Jefferies in March 2007, vendor relationships, EDC and functional outsourcing (in that order) were identified as the top three strategies for improving research and development productivity/efficiency in the pharmaceutical market.