Shares in UK-based contract research organisation (CRO) Premier Research Group jumped by nearly 14% on news that the company had received a “very preliminary” bid approach from certain members of its executive management team.

Premier said there was no guarantee the management approach, which sought permission to explore the possibility of making an offer for the company, would lead to any actual bid.

Despite a string of acquisitions since it went public in late 2004, Premier has seen its share price in London fall from a peak of 280p in January to a 52-week low of around 92p. While putting some of this down to stock market volatility, the company responded earlier this month by issuing a trading update saying the board was still confident of achieving its consensus forecasts for the full year ending 31 January 2008.

154% sales growth

In the last financial year, Premier’s turnover rose by 154% to £41.8m, pushing earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) up by 108% to £9.8 million.

According to the trading update released on 10 August, Premier had more than 80% of its full-year expectations already booked or scheduled for delivery, as it moved into “its traditionally busiest season”. New order intake remained strong and the order backlog continued to grow, with more than £8 million (€11.8 million) in new orders won since 1 July, the company noted.

The integration of US CRO ARS and the Swiss acquisition D-Target were progressing well, with several cross-selling opportunities already starting to emerge across the enlarged group, Premier added.

Premier paid out up to $22.1 million for ARS and up to SwFr17.0 million ($14.2 million) for D-Target in July, saying it expected both privately held companies to be earning accretive in the first year of integration.