Covid Researchers Icon, PRA Health Join in $12 Billion Deal

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Icon Plc agreed to buy PRA Health Sciences Inc. in a $12 billion cash and stock deal that combines two research providers supporting Covid vaccine and treatment trials.

Both companies help run outsourced clinical trials for drugmakers and medical device developers, a business that’s been caught up in the global rush to immunize populations against the coronavirus.

Icon helped recruit 44,000 participants in clinical trials of Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s Covid vaccine, and PRA has also supported research related to the pandemic, including trials of potential treatments.

PRA shareholders will receive $80 in cash and 0.4125 Icon share, a 30% premium to the closing price on Tuesday. PRA shareholders will own about 34% of the combined company after the transaction, according to a statement.

Icon shares fell 16% in premarket U.S. trading, with PRA surging 19%.

The merged entity will be based in Dublin, Icon’s current headquarters. PRA is based in Raleigh, North Carolina. Icon Chief Executive Officer Steve Cutler will serve as CEO of the new company, with Brendan Brennan, Icon’s chief financial officer, maintaining that role after the deal.

The Dublin-based company has provided clinical trial services to Pfizer for three decades and formed a strategic relationship with the U.S. pharma giant in 2011 to help it run clinical trials.

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