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WSJ Reports That PPD In Talks To Sell

By Vicky Janowski and Cece Nunn, posted Apr 14, 2021
PPD's headquarters in downtown Wilmington (File photo)
Wilmington-based PPD is in talks to sell to Thermo Fisher Scientific for more than $15 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported this afternoon.
 
Citing unnamed sources familiar with the issue, the publication said the companies could come to a deal as early as this week if talks don’t fall through.
 
PPD officials did not immediately return requests for comment Wednesday evening.
 
Massachusetts-based Thermo Fisher Scientific has a global workforce of more than 80,000 and annual revenue exceeding $30 billion, according to the company. Working on technologies, purchasing and pharmaceutical services through its brands that include Applied Biosystems and Unity Lab Services and Patheon, its market cap is about $188 billion.
 
PPD, a contract research organization with about 1,800 employees in the Wilmington area and 25,000 globally, has a market cap of about $13.6 billion.
 
Shares of PPD (Nasdaq: PPD) rose 12% at the market’s close Wednesday after the WSJ report, rising another 2% in after-hours trading. Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE: TMO) shares were up slightly after hours after closing 1.4% down Wednesday.
 
Wednesday’s report is not the first time a potential PPD sale has made the headlines. Reuters reported in February 2017 that Burlington-based LabCorp was in talks to acquire PPD for more than $8 billion, nearly half of the figure sources told the WSJ is being discussed with Thermo Fisher Scientific.
 
Instead, PPD closed that year on a recapitalization deal and added two new investors. The investment with a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and an affiliate of GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, valued PPD at the time at more than $9 billion.
 
Founded in 1985 by Fred Eshelman as a one-person firm, PPD held its first initial public stock offering in 1996. The company was later sold to affiliates of investment firms The Carlyle Group and Hellman & Friedman in 2011 for $3.9 billion, which turned it into a private company.

 
But last year, PPD returned to being a public company, listing on the Nasdaq in February
 
PPD, which played a role in Moderna’s clinical trials last year to develop its COVID-19 vaccine, reported a 16.1% increase in revenue last year over 2019, up nearly $4.7 billion.
 
Wilmington Mayor Saffo, who said Wednesday he did not have information about the reported talks, said he was not necessarily surprised.
 
“[A company that size], you can always expect that someone’s going to try to purchase them,” he said. “Obviously, they’re a large employer for our community, for our city. They’re a very important part of the job market here … they’ve made significant investments over the years especially downtown.”
 
“I hope,” Saffo said, “that if they are purchased by this company, they remain here in this community.”
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