A timetable for overseas success

Synexus, which runs clinical trials for multinational pharma and biotech companies, has come a long way since GP Ian Smith bought the bungalow next to his practise in 1992 to launch the business.

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2005: a brief spell on AIM

After an initial period of organic domestic growth, Ian hired a professional management team to begin an aggressive overseas buy and build strategy.

Regulatory agencies in major markets increasingly demand larger and longer clinical trials in patients with diverse medical and ethnic profiles. With greater scale, Synexus would be able to help its clients to cut costs and time to market for medicines. This would require significant financial firepower, and the Lancashire-based business initially took to London's AIM junior stock market to raise GBP3.5 million in 2005.

2006: first acquisitions

The share placing helped fund the company's first overseas acquisitions in Poland and Hungary in 2006.

The choice of overseas sites - then and now - has been driven by the needs of Synexus's clients. Chief executive and shareholder Christophe Berthoux says: "We go where our sponsors are running clinical trials, where they ask us to have a presence". He adds: "If a sponsor says we are needed in Eastern Europe, then that's where we'll go."

2007: back in private hands

The company was de-listed by Lyceum Capital two years later in an GBP18 million deal. The private equity firm saw more potential for Synexus than its institutional investors and provided the financial firepower for it to fast-track its expansion overseas, acquiring four businesses and growing from 13 to 25 sites.

We go where our sponsors are running clinical trials, where they ask us to have a presence. If a sponsor says we are needed in Eastern Europe, then that’s where we’ll go

2015: funds for US expansion

Last year private equity investor LDC backed a GBP83 million secondary buyout, with Bluebay and HSBC providing debt facilities to support the deal. The company quickly put this funding to work by opening new research sites in Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, and this year entered the crucial US market by acquiring Research Across America.

2016: new owner

Then, at the start of June, a new chapter began for the company with its acquisition by North Carolina-based drugs company PPD, in a deal valuing the business at GBP178 million.

Berthoux says: "As the company enters the next phase, we the management team are excited and look forward to continuing to grow the company and bring life changing therapies for patients worldwide."

Synexus featured on the Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 in 2015. For more information on the league table see www.fasttrack.co.uk

For further information about trading internationally, visit the HSBC Connections Lounge at the International Festival of Business in Liverpool where an HSBC Trade Specialist will be on hand to answer your questions or call +44 (0)800 78 31 300.

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