Eversana, backed by Water Street and JLL Partners, nears $950m-plus deal for Intouch Group

As the life sciences industry increasingly embraces digital marketing strategies, companies like Intouch are seeing growth and attracting private equity interest.

With the needs of drugmakers constantly evolving, private equity firms are flocking to the various specialty outsourcing companies offering consulting, market access, marketing and commercialization services – including those supporting the industry’s growing adoption of digital marketing strategies.

One such consolidator is Eversana, backed by Water Street Healthcare Partners and JLL Partners. The PE-backed strategic buyer won the sale process for Intouch Group, a full-service network agency helping pharmaceutical companies elevate their brands, four sources familiar with the matter told PE Hub. 

The anticipated deal is expected to value the life sciences-focused marketing services company at at least $950 million, some of the people said. That translates to approximately 19x the asset’s $50 million of EBITDA, they said.

Houlihan Lokey provided financial advice to Intouch on the sale process, with a deal poised to be signed imminently, if not already signed. 

Founded in 1999 by Faruk Capan, Intouch offers a diverse suite of marketing capabilities to life science clients, including creative services, media buying, enterprise solutions and data analytics. The eight Intouch affiliates include Intouch Solutions, Intouch Proto, Intouch Seven, Intouch International, Intouch Media, Intouch B2D, Intouch Analytics, and Intouch Market Access. 

Based in Overland, Kansas, Intouch employs more than 1,200, according to its website. 

One big growth driver of pharma marketing agencies like Intouch, one source recently told PE Hub: Digital strategies are increasingly replacing the historical sale rep model of marketing drugs to doctors, and likewise, digital advertising has proven a better way to reach patients.

Amid the pandemic, Intouch in 2020 recorded $220 million in revenue, up 21 percent over 2019’s $182 million and double 2017’s $110 million, trade publication MM+M (Medical Marketing & Media) wrote in June. It scored 52 account wins and 18 new clients in 2020, the report said. “For example, with clients turning increasingly to digital channels, Intouch Media upped its buying by more than 250 percent,” MM+M wrote.

Rebranded as Eversana in 2018, the PE-backed acquirer is a global consolidator of commercial services to the life sciences industry built in partnership with Water Street and JLL. The former’s investment in one of the predecessor businesses now comprising Eversana dates to 2016.

InTouch will join the Eversana’s growing umbrella of merged companies, which includes Alliance Life Sciences, Dohmen Life Science Services, Health Strategies Group, The Access Group, Triplefin, Patient Experience Project, Seeker Health, Alamo Pharma Service, Cornerstone Research Group, HVH Precision Analytics and Alkemy Partners. In July, Eversana bought Toronto-based  Accelera Canada and its partner companies. 

Eversana through its affiliates serves more than 500 organizations, including innovative start-ups and established pharmaceutical companies. It works with manufacturers, patients, payors and regulators to address pricing, access, reimbursement, adherence and product delivery challenges on behalf of pharmaceutical organizations.

InTouch adds to a flurry of investment activity in the sector in recent months, with Houlihan Lokey scoring the sell-side engagement on a number of deals of this vein. 

That includes Ares Management’s recent agreement to buy The Lockwood Group, which commanded close to 21x the medical communications company’s projected 2021 EBITDA of $17 million, sources familiar with the deal terms told PE Hub. That implies a deal valued at roughly $360 million. 

Elsewhere, Houlihan this summer ran a sale process for life sciences-focused consulting business ClearView Healthcare Partners, which resulted in a sale to GHO Capital, a European-based specialist in healthcare. Ares also was around that process, along with several other PE shops that participated, sources said. 

GHO’s deal for ClearView was valued at about 17x its marketed EBITDA of $43 million, sources told PE Hub at the time. That implied a deal valued around the ballpark of $730 million.

Elsewhere, PE Hub wrote in August that Parthenon Capital is preparing a sale of Trinity Life Sciences, a global strategy consulting business. Jefferies and SVB Leerink are engaged for sell-side financial advice, sources said. 

Water Street, JLL, Eversana and Intouch did not immediately return PE Hub‘s requests for comments. Houlihan declined to comment.