Anju’s Growth Strategy: CEO’s Perspective

Source: Mergermarket | May 3, 2022

Anju Software, a clinical trials data and software provider, is on the lookout for large and small acquisitions to build its business while it pursues organic growth, according to new CEO Laurence Birch.

Phoenix-based Anju, which has been wholly owned by Abry Partners since March 2019, could spend up to USD 50m on acquisitions, although Birch said future acquisitions would likely be smaller.

Anju contracts with pharmaceutical companies, contract research organizations (CROs), and medical devices developers, providing software solutions to help them move drugs and devices through the regulatory approval process.

Competitors in the market include Medidata Solutions, a unit of France’s Dassault Systems [EPA:DSY], Oracle Corp [NYSE:ORCL] and Veeva Systems [NYSE:VEEV], which serve the biggest drug and devices makers. Although Anju’s clientele includes large life sciences products makers, it is largely comprised of mid-sized and smaller manufacturers, said Birch.

Birch, who was appointed CEO last month, said he aims to grow Anju by competing on price and “high touch” service that may be lacking in the larger players in a competitive and fast-evolving clinical trials services industry.

The industry in recent years has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced more clinical trials into a remote and hybrid model as patients refrained from participating in in-person clinical trials. In response, the clinical trials services providers like Anju have stepped up the use of artificial intelligence and machine-learning technologies to add to capabilities, said Birch.

“There is a lot of competition and it’s growing every day,” said Birch, adding that “our technology is as robust as any in the marketplace.”

Anju, which was held by Providence Equity Partners prior to Abry’s ownership, has made a string of acquisitions in recent years, including that of OmniComm Systems for USD 74m in September 2019, the company said. It also bought Zephyr Health in 2018 for USD 7m, according to Mergermarket’s database, along with MDCPartners and Sylogent in 2018 for undisclosed consideration and others.

Birch said the company is likely to continue adding “high quality” acquisitions to build its technology platform that includes its eClinical Suite of clinical trial software, its Medical Affairs Suite and its Data Science Suite. He declined to be more specific on the kinds of assets it would pursue, but said the objective is “take our current products, drive them and expand them.” If acquisitions would help that, “our private equity owners will have appetite for that,” he said.

The company is looking for acquisitions that would be “profitable and somewhat accretive” to its software platform and is open to outreaches by investment bankers and from companies receptive to being acquired. Birch, whose lengthy life sciences industry resume includes working as head of M&A at Baxter International [NYSE:BAX], said he intends to be selective in pursuing purchases and would likely be “opportunistic” in its dealmaking for the foreseeable future.

“Too many acquisitions fail,” he said, referring generally to the industry, noting that the company is also looking to reduce debt while it grows revenue.

Birch said that while Abry has held Anju for three years, it is not under pressure to seek new investors to recapitalize the business or otherwise seek an exit. For now, “Abry does not have a playbook on what their exit looks like,” he said, adding that he was not brought in to flip the business.

Anju, which is headquartered in Phoenix, with offices in Brussels and Pune, India, has around 300 employees. It uses Kirkland & Ellis as legal counsel.

by Dane Hamilton

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