eResearch Technology (ERT), the US-based supplier of centralised cardiac safety, respiratory efficacy, electronic patient-reported outcomes (ePRO), eClinical and other services for clinical trials, has taken the private equity route in a deal valued at around US$400 million.

ERT announced a definitive agreement to be acquired by affiliates of Genstar Capital, a middle-market private equity firm that already has a stake in the clinical research sector through its ownership of PRA International, for US$8.00 per share in cash.

The proposed transaction was approved unanimously by the ERT board of directors. The US$8.00 per share purchase price represents a premium of around 38% over ERT’s average closing share price for the 90 trading days ended 9 April 2012 and a 42% premium over the 52-week average, the company noted.

“We are pleased that this transaction appropriately recognises the value of ERT as one of the leading vendors to the pharmaceutical industry, while providing our stockholders with an immediate cash realization for their investment in ERT,” commented Elam Hitchner, III, chairman of the ERT Special Committee of independent directors that recommended the deal.

The Genstar acquisition also has the support of Blum Capital, which holds about 9% of ERT’s outstanding shares.

Third-quarter completion

Pending shareholder approval and satisfaction of the usual regulatory and closing conditions, the transaction is expected to close during the third quarter of 2012. 

There were rumours last summer that PRA International was up for sale, with Genstar dangling a price tag of more than US$1 billion, but no deal materialised.