Blackstone buys Crescent Capital’s Nucleus Network

Global investment manager Blackstone has agreed terms to acquire clinical trials provider Nucleus Network from Australian private equity firm Crescent Capital.

Nucleus Network runs clinical trials in Melbourne, Brisbane and the US.  Bloomberg.

Blackstone head of private equity for Australia, James Carnegie, said the investment would sit as part of the firm’s private equity portfolio.

Nucleus Network is Australia’s largest provider of phase-one clinical trials, with facilities in Melbourne, Brisbane and Minneapolis.

Crescent is exiting Nucleus after three years. It bought into the business in 2018, and began shopping it around in July this year. It recruited Morgan Stanley for the sale and was expecting a $600 million payday, Street Talk previously reported.

Nucleus Network was understood to have been pitched as a $40 million a year business, in terms of forecast EBITDA. Crescent’s asking price was understood to be in the 15 to 20 times EBITDA range.

Nucleus Network

The 15-year-old Nucleus Network has worked on over 800 phase one clinical trials for the commercialisation of new medicines and therapies. And Blackstone expects this to grow, as phase one trial volumes in Australia are driven up by the increasing demand from offshore biotechs for speedy and reliable trials.

For Blackstone, Nucleus is just one in the many life sciences business it has bought in the recent years. In July 2020, Blackstone raised the largest private life sciences fund to date, clocking in more than $7 billion in assets under management.

It also invests in the life sciences theme via its private equity, real estate and credit strategies. Earlier this year, Blackstone completed the corporate carve out of Alinamin Pharmaceutical in Japan, in the largest private equity deal in the country since 2017.