Betting on the attractive contract research piece in the Indian healthcare story, Greater Pacific Capital, the UK-based private equity major, has acquired controlling stake in Accutest Research Laboratories, Mumbai-based leading contract research organisation (CRO). The financial details are not yet known.

Avendus Capital was the banker for Accutest on the deal.

According to sources familiar with the development, Accutest, established in 1998 by entrepreneur duo Dr Satish Sawant and Dr. Santosh Joshi, sold a portion of the equity while other PE investor Aureos India exited its 34% stakeholding in the firm. Aureos invested Rs 18.5 crore ($4 million) in 2006. Accutest registered revenues of about Rs 80 crore last year.

The mails sent to Satish Sawant, CEO & Co-founder, Accutest and Gautier de Limelette, the senior member of the Greater Pacific’s Indian office, did not elicit any response.

V Krishnakumar, executive director at Avendus said, “India has significant structural advantages for global competitiveness in the CRO industry, and we believe that Accutest is well-positioned to ride this wave. This was our second CRO deal in the last three months and we see significant investor interest in this space.”

Since 2005, Greater Pacific made investments in India such as Edelweiss Capital Ltd, Torrent Pharma, Mascon Global, Styx Infosoft and Azure Knowledge Corp.

Two months back, Greater Pacific Capital exited its two and half year old investment in Torrent Pharma with around 2x net returns. It sold almost its entire 4.83% stake in the open market earning Rs 221 crore through a bulk deal at BSE, at Rs 566 a piece.

Founded by three former Goldman Sachs honchos Ketal Patel (also the CEO), Joe Sealy and Francis Crispino, Greater Pacific Capital targets investments in India and China. In late 2005, the firm raised capital for its first investment in India to grow a broad based asset manager from a brokerage house. It had its first close with commitments of $200 million four years ago.

Akshaya Prasad who co-heads the Indian office of the firm, is also an ex-Goldman Sachs executive and most recently set up Goldman's infrastructure investment business in India and was part of the senior team managing Goldman Sachs' $6.5-billion Infrastructure Fund.

Accutest is an independent CRO, focusing on Bioavailability (BA)/Bioequivalence (BE) and Pharmacokinetic (PKA) studies. The company set up its lab in 1998 in Vashi. Accutest has three centres in Mumbai, Pune & Ahmedabad.

“Since inception, Accutest has registered robust growth in business, profits, clientele and service lines, and counts itself among the most profitable CROs to have originated from India. Accutest has significantly expanded its international operations and caters to a well-diversified base of marquee clients,” Krishnakumar added.

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