Permira to buy UK pharma services firm Ergomed for $886 million

(Reuters) -European private equity firm, Permira, has agreed to buy British biopharmaceutical services company Ergomed for about 703.1 million pounds ($886.40 million), the two firms said on Monday, in the latest UK healthcare deal this year.

Shares in London-listed Ergomed soared as much as 28% to an eight-month high of 1,342 pence in early trade.

The cash offer for 1,350 pence per share represents a premium of about 28% to Ergomed's last closing price and has the backing of the board, the joint statement said.

Surrey-based Ergomed provides clinical research and trial management services, employs more than 1,800 people and operates out of 24 offices in around 100 countries.

It becomes the latest British healthcare company to be taken private this year, following veterinary drugmaker Dechra's 4.46 billion-pound-deal with EQT in June and life sciences software firm Instem's 203 million-pound-deal with Archimed last week.

European M&A in the first seven months of 2023 declined about 51% from last year to $305.9 billion, its lowest level since 2002. Globally, healthcare has been a bright spot, accounting for 16% of total global M&A, according to data from LSEG.

"Private ownership by funds advised by Permira, a highly-experienced healthcare investor with a track record of building successful UK-based, global businesses, will allow us to build on the foundations we have created," Ergomed Chairman Miroslav Reljanović said.

"It also brings with it opportunities to access their operational expertise, global network and capital."

Permira focuses on investments in technology, consumer, healthcare and services.

Permira is also offering an alternative to the cash offer, whereby eligible shareholders in the London-listed company would get 451 pence in cash plus unlisted securities.

Ergomed's board is not making any recommendations to shareholders with regards to the alternative offer.

Rothschild & Co served as financial adviser to Permira, while Jefferies and Numis advised Ergomed.

($1 = 0.7932 pounds)

(Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar and Sharon Singleton)