A funding injection from private equity (PE) firm Mercury Capital has given a boost to Sydney-based Novotech’s expansion plans for the Asia Pacific region.

Mercury Capital has acquired a 30% stake in Novotech, which bills itself as Australia’s largest independent contract research organisation (CRO), with an option to take the holding up to 50% at a later date. No further financial details were disclosed.

Formed in 1996, Novotech runs clinical trials in all the key markets of the Asia-Pacific region, including China, India, Australia, Taiwan and South Korea. The CRO also taps into a network of strategic partners to extend its reach globally.

Novotech’s chief executive officer, Alek Safarian, said the company was already active in 10 Asia-Pacific countries on behalf of its biotechnology and pharmaceutical clients. “This investment will further accelerate our expansion plans,” he added.

The CRO works predominantly for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies from the US and the European Union. It is currently managing around 70 trials across a wide range of therapeutic areas including oncology and cardiovascular disease, Safarian noted.

Organic growth

Also based in Sydney, Mercury Capital was set up by former Goldman Sachs managing director Clark Perkins and typically invests in companies with an enterprise value between A$30 million and A$120 million.

“We’re excited by the organic growth opportunities in Australia and Asia, and acquisition opportunities in the latter,” Perkins told The Wall Street Journal’s MoneyBeat blog recently.“There’s a strong trend of major pharmaceutical companies outsourcing, which has led to underlying annual compound growth in the market of between 5% and 10%,” Perkins commented, adding that Novotech is “growing much faster than this”.