CLEVELAND, OH – Oct. 29, 2014 – ChanTest, a leading provider of specialized laboratory testing services for drug development, and portfolio company of Ampersand Ventures, has been acquired by life sciences research giant Charles River Laboratories International, Inc. (NYSE: CRL) for a total price of $54 million.
ChanTest specializes in measuring interactions between drug candidates and proteins known as ion channels. Ion channels represent an important class of drug targets, and are also vital because of cardiac safety risks that can result from unintended interactions between certain drugs and ion channels. In the 1990s, ChanTest founder Arthur Brown, MD, PhD, discovered the connection between ion channels and cardiac risk, and in 1998 Dr. Brown founded ChanTest to help pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies screen for these interactions early in the drug development process.
This acquisition follows closely CRL’s acquisition of Argenta and BioFocus, two highly specialized early stage drug discovery service providers. These acquisitions were completed in the first half 2014 for a combined price of €134 million, and added almost 400 scientists in the UK and Netherlands. Argenta and Biofocus added to Charles Rivers’ continuous supply chain of contract research service offerings that commence with discovery and follow on to an investigational new drug (IND) application. The Chantest acquisition added dramatically to the discovery skills of Charles River, and Chantest’s world leading expertise in ion-channels complements the expertise of Argenta and BioFocus.
Ampersand Capital Partners, a leading healthcare investor, made a growth equity investment in ChanTest in 2007, and has worked with management to expand and diversify the business. Today, ChanTest is widely regarded as having the most complete offering of ion channel services and products in the industry, and has been named the “most trusted and most used provider” of ion channel screening services by industry surveys.
Dr. Brown, known by colleagues around the world as Buzz, is the founder and CEO of ChanTest. He commented: “Ampersand has been a highly supportive and valuable partner for ChanTest, helping to grow our business and expand our leadership team over the years. With Ampersand’s support, and the contributions from our excellent management team, ChanTest has established itself as a trusted partner for numerous pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients. We are all excited about building on that track record with Charles River.”
During Ampersand’s investment, Managing Partner Herb Hooper and Operating Partner Peter Glick have served on ChanTest’s Board. Mr. Hooper added: “ChanTest is exactly the type of company that Ampersand seeks – a founder-run company with a market leading position, excellent management and opportunities to accelerate growth. It has been very rewarding to partner with Buzz Brown and his team, and we wish them the best in continuing to grow the business within Charles River.”
Fairmount Partners was selected by Dr. Brown and Ampersand to represent Chantest and its shareholders. This is the second transaction that Fairmount has completed with Ampersand in the past twelve months, having represented CRI Lifetree, another Ampersand portfolio company, in its sale to PRA International and its PE backer KKR. Fairmount has completed over 100 pharma services deals, including 7 in the past year. Neal McCarthy, Managing Director of Fairmount Partners commented, “it was an absolute pleasure working with Ampersand and especially Peter Glick and Herb Hooper for a second time, and we were proud and pleased that these experienced veterans were so happy with our last collaboration that they introduced us to Buzz Brown. It was also a pleasure to work with Dr. Brown, a living legend in pharmaceutical development – although many think the LeBron James is the King of Cleveland, we feel that title rightfully belongs to Dr. Buzz Brown.” McCarthy added “the Chantest/Ampersand partnership is a business school case study of successful private equity investing – start with an industry leader, add capital and strategic advice from one of the most experience pharmaceutical services investors in the world, add the valuable advice of two very smart independent board members (John Mills and Joe Gentile) and you allow management to create a world leading business, and a financially successful result.”
McCarthy noted, “This was also our second recent transaction with Charles River, and we were once again impressed – Jim Foster’s vision is clear and focused, and continues to drive the success of Charles River, and his fabulous acquisition team led by Joseph LaPlume were able to close the transaction in 4 weeks, and keep every promise. Congratulations to Joe who was just named Corporate Senior Vice President, Corporate Development.”
ChanTest is an ion channel focused Contract Research Organization (CRO) that handles safety testing and screening for global pharma and biotech companies. ChanTest’s mission is to serve the drug discovery and development needs of customers worldwide with high-value solutions for ion channel and GPCR biology. Since its inception in 1998, the company has tested compounds for more than 300 global pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and partners with them to speed the drug development process for the release of better, safer drugs. ChanTest offers integrated ion channel and GPCR services (GLP and non-GLP) and reagents; the company’s library of validated ion channel cell lines and pre-clinical cardiac risk assessment service portfolio are the most comprehensive commercially available today. Because of ChanTest’s seminal role in the nonclinical cardiac safety field, along with the company’s uncompromising commitment to quality, ChanTest has been named the “most trusted and most used fee-for-service provider” for ion channel screening in HTStec surveys since 2006. ChanTest is based in Cleveland, Ohio. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ampersand is a middle market private equity firm with a focus on growth equity investments in the Healthcare sector. Over the past two decades, Ampersand has managed $1 billion in private equity partnerships. Ampersand leverages its unique blend of private equity and operating experience to build value and drive superior long-term performance alongside its portfolio company management teams. Additional information about Ampersand is available at http://www.ampersandcapital.com.
About Charles River Laboratories, Inc.:
Charles River Laboratories, Inc. is an American corporation specializing in a variety of pre-clinical and clinical laboratory services for the pharmaceutical, medical device and biotechnology industries.  It also supplies assorted biomedical products and research and development outsourcing services for use in the pharmaceutical industry. According to its website, its customers include every major pharmaceutical and biotechnology company in the world, major academic institutions and government research centers. The company was initiated during 1947. The chief executive officer is James C. Foster. With more than 8,500 employees, the company has facilities in Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, China, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
About Fairmount Partners:
Fairmount Partners is one of the largest investment banking groups in the Mid-Atlantic region. The firm specializes in advising middle-market growth companies with mergers and acquisitions, capital raising and strategic advice. Fairmount offers deep expertise in the Healthcare Services and Technology, Information Technology Services, Technology and Software and Industrial and Consumer Products markets. Fairmount has completed more than 140 transactions throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia since its inception in June 2003. For more information, visit: http://www.fairmountpartners.com
Principals of Fairmount Partners acted as advisors to ChanTest in this transaction.