Amarex Clinical Research (“Amarex”), a Washington DC-based contract research organization (“CRO”), has sold a majority interest to NSF International. Since 1998, Amarex has helped pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device companies design, manage, and conduct clinical trials and navigate regulatory complexities around the globe. The addition of Amarex strengthens NSF’s global CRO and regulatory capabilities to better serve pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device companies in their efforts to develop products and services that will protect and improve human health.
Prior to engaging Cascade Partners in late 2015, Amarex had experienced a period of rapid growth, which led to the decision to explore potential partners who could continue to drive the business to new levels. Dr. Kazempour was keen on finding a partner that would provide guidance and financial support while also allowing Dr. Kazempour to remain as CEO and continue to drive Amarex’s growth. Although several strong offers were on the table, Dr. Kazempour decided to pause the process to take advantage of new growth opportunities that had arisen.
As Amarex continued its growth trajectory, the market for CROs exploded with activity. Private equity interest grew with top tier firms racing to build differentiated platforms, and several large strategic CROs merged to form multibillion-dollar organizations. Throughout this period, Amarex and Cascade maintained a strong relationship, and after 18 months of continued growth at Amarex, Dr. Kazempour was ready to explore his options once again.
As before, several private equity suitors emerged with offers at healthy valuations. Moving through negotiations with several firms revealed the need to find a partner that fully understood the nature of the business without having operations that would subsume Amarex. It became clear that the typical private equity model of investing was not the ideal fit for Amarex, which led Cascade to explore more creative options.
Dr. Kazempour had originally decided not to pursue strategic acquirers as he wanted to remain at the helm of his company as the platform investment; however, due to Cascade’s decade long relationship with NSF International (“NSF”), Cascade knew that NSF was different. NSF has been very active in the health sciences space with expertise across the entire pharma, biotech, and medical device product life cycles except at the late stage of the development cycle. Amarex’s expertise in the earlier stages was a perfect fit to fill this gap.
Upon introducing NSF and Amarex, the fit was clear from a strategic, cultural, and financial perspective. Amarex provided critical expertise for NSF; NSF’s and Amarex’s customer bases were complementary offering significant opportunity to cross-sell and reduce customer concentration; NSF had a high level of comfort with Amarex’s customer base; NSF’s global footprint would enable Amarex to expand into new geographies and capture new market share; the cultural similarities between both companies were apparent; both companies had similar mindsets for the future. Both parties were beyond excited to close the transaction in September 2019 and focus on achieving their shared vision for the future.
This transaction is yet another example of Cascade’s relentless focus on achieving its clients’ objectives, creativity in finding partners that fit its clients’ vision, and dedication to finish the job despite the inevitable roadblocks that emerge throughout a deal process.