Icon agrees to purchase PRA Health for $12 billion

Icon to purchase fellow heavyweight CRO in a mega deal as they both make inroads into virtual trials.

Icon has agreed to purchase PRA Health in cash and stock transaction worth approximately $12 billion, representing a 30% premium to PRA’s closing price as of 23 Feb. Once closed, Icon’s current shareholders will own two-thirds of the combined entity, with PRA’s shareholders owning the remaining third. Following the announcement, PRA’s shares increased by 25% on the day, with Icon’s falling by just over 5%. The news of the transaction come as Icon is striving to recover from a difficult 2020 amid Covid-19 disruptions. In addition to announcing the buyout, Icon also published its 4th quarter and full-year results, with the latter showing a dip of 0.3% to $2.78 billion compared to the year before.

The combined entity will be headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, which is Icon’s current home and Steve Cutler, who has been CEO of Icon since 2017 will be at the helm. The combination will also see the combined entity become the second largest CRO behind IQVIA which itself resulted from a combination of Quintiles and IMS Health back in 2016. The transaction is expected to accelerate the combined entity’s push into virtual trials with both entities having focused efforts around siteless trials separately as more CROs look to refine how to sustain clinical trials amid the pandemic. Covance, owned by LabCorp, also announced in late 2020 that it plans to become virtual CRO in the coming years.