Another private equity firm has dipped into the contract research sector, with Kansas Venture Capital, Inc (KVCI) snapping up the former AAIPharma bioanalytical division from US-based contract research organisation (CRO) ZeeCRO Inc.

The latter changed its name from AAIPharma Inc and shifted its corporate headquarters from Wilmington to Cary, North Carolina a couple of months ago after selling its Pharmaceutical Development division to another private equity player, Water Street Healthcare Partners, in July. Rights to the AIIPharma name were part of that deal.

Under its new guise, ZeeCRO continues to provide early- and late-stage development services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries from offices in North and South America, Eastern and Western Europe, and South Africa.

Financial terms for the bioanalytical division deal with Kansas Venture Capital were not disclosed. Under the KVCI umbrella the division will be called KCAS, returning the business to its original identity before AAIPharma acquired the then Kansas City Analytical Services in September 1998.

KCAS will also retain its base in Shawnee, Kansas, underlining the local push behind the deal. KVCI partnered with other local investors to acquire KCAS, which was founded by Drs William Mason and Robert Lanman in 1979, while the Kansas Bioscience Authority provided strategic guidance and will maintain an advisory role in the laboratory’s operations.

KVCI says it will grow the bioanalytical business both organically and through acquisition, establishing best-in-class analytical services for the pharmaceutical and life science sectors.

“In addition to providing access to significant capital resources, the combined KVCI and KBA effort offers extensive pharmaceutical expertise that will benefit our customers, employees and shareholders as we continue to bring the highest levels of quality and innovation to the marketplace,” commented Michael Lanman, son of one of the original KCAS founders and a 25-year veteran of the laboratory. Lanman will continue to serve as KCAS’s lead operations executive.

ZeeCRO has been through a number of radical changes in recent years, following a brush with bankruptcy as a pharmaceutical manufacturer in 2005. The former AAIPharma subsequently emerged as a pure-play CRO in 2006.