Steve O'Hare of Equistone Partners Europe
Steve O'Hare of Equistone Partners Europe

Spectris acquires Manchester-based drug discovery firm for £163m

Instrumentation business Spectris has acquired Manchester-based drug discovery and development company Concept Life Sciences for £163m.

Spectris, headquartered in Egham, purchased Concept from mid-market private equity firm Equistone Partners Europe.

Serving a customer base mainly in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, environmental and agrochemical sectors, Concept was founded in 2014 with backing from Equistone.

The initial investment gave the company a platform to make acquisitions and develop its offering. Today, Concept boasts revenues of £48.7m and employs 700 staff, including more than 500 scientists, across 11 laboratories.

Being part of Spectris will see Concept add test service capabilities to its materials analysis division.

In addition to its drug discovery and development operation, the firm offers analytical testing and environmental consulting services.

Equistone Partners Europe senior partner Steve O’Hare said: “It has been a pleasure working with Michael Fort, Paul McCluskey and the rest of the management team to develop a new Group that is now regarded as a leader in the global life sciences sector.

“The team has achieved consistently strong growth over the last three years through both organic growth with new and existing service offerings supported by strategic acquisitions. We are confident that the integration with Spectris will support the company’s ongoing strategy during its next phase of development.”

Concept Life Sciences’ executive chairman, Michael Fort, said: “Equistone has done a fantastic job in helping us to grow the business and execute our buy-and-build strategy.

“It has been an exciting journey and we have successfully strengthened our capabilities across the agrochemical, environmental and life sciences sectors, as well as entering new markets in Europe and the US.”

He added: “This puts us in a strong position for future growth and we are delighted to become part of the wider Spectris business.”

The chief executive of Spectris, John O’Higgins, said of the transaction: “Concept Life Sciences is a high-quality services business, which further strengthens our portfolio and enhances our ability to provide customers within the pharmaceutical, life sciences and advanced materials sectors with a combined product and service proposition.”

Financial advisors Rothschild and law firm Addleshaw Goddard advised Equistone and management shareholders on the deal.

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