Investment consortium nears $7 billion-plus deal for Syneos Health -sources

By Anirban Sen

NEW YORK (Reuters) -A consortium comprising Elliott Investment Management, Patient Square Capital and Veritas Capital is nearing a deal to acquire Syneos Health Inc, a provider of clinical research to drug developers, for more than $7 billion, including debt, people familiar with the matter said.

The consortium will pay about $43 per share in cash for Syneos, the sources said. This represents a 14% gain to Syneos' value on Feb. 24, the last trading day before Reuters reported that the company was exploring a sale.

The relatively small premium reflects Syneos' challenges in winning new business. Syneos Chief Executive Michelle Keefe said in February the company had "work to do" to improve its win rates among small drug firms for which it relies on for a big chunk of its business. Many of these clients have cut spending as they have found it difficult to raise funding in a post-COVID-19 market downturn.

The sources said the deal could be announced as early as Wednesday and requested anonymity because the matter is confidential.

Syneos, Elliott, and Veritas did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Patient Square declined to comment.

Bloomberg News first reported the news of the investment consortium's talks with Syneos.

Based in Morrisville, North Carolina, Syneos helps pharmaceutical companies with clinical trials and to market their drugs.

Syneos, which carries a debt pile of nearly $3 billion, was created in 2017 by INC Research Holdings Inc's acquisition of inVentiv Health Inc for $7.4 billion, including debt.

Syneos reported a total backlog for contracts of $6.8 billion as of the end of 2022, down from $7.5 billion as of the end of 2021.

There has been a wave of consolidation among contract research organizations seeking to lower costs, amass more clinical trial data and win customers.

Most recently, Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc acquired PPD Inc for $17.4 billion and Icon Plc took over PRA Health Sciences Inc for $12 billion.

(Reporting by Anirban Sen in New York; Editing by David Gregorio and Jacqueline Wong)