LDC-backed Fishawack buys Carling Group of Companies

Fishawack Group of Companies, which is backed by LDC, the private equity arm of of Lloyds Banking Group, has acquired London and San Diego-based Carling Group of Companies. Included in the transaction are two San Diego companies: Carling Communications, a healthcare marketing and communications agency and MCME Global, a provider of medical services. No financial terms were disclosed.


LDC-backed Fishawack Group of Companies, the specialist provider of scientific communications services to global pharmaceutical companies, has announced the acquisition of the US-based Carling Group of Companies. The transaction value is undisclosed.

The Group includes Carling Communications, a full-service healthcare marketing and communications agency, and MCME Global, the specialist provider of medical education services. Both businesses are headquartered in San Diego.

Founded in 2010 by Didi Discar, and with offices in San Diego and London, Carling has a team of more than 100 people specialising in full-service marketing, advertising and physician communications. It supports clients across the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries and provides specialist expertise across 35 therapeutic areas, including ophthalmology, dermatology, cardiovascular, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and pain management.

This deal marks the first acquisition Fishawack has made since mid-market private equity investor LDC backed the £38m buyout of the business in January this year, with a commitment to support its buy-and-build strategy.
Carling Communications will be the first agency in the Fishawack Group to focus solely on healthcare marketing.
Simon Braham, Investment Director at LDC, said: “Over the past six months we have been working closely with Oliver and his team to implement their growth strategy. With the acquisition of the Carling Group, Fishawack has not only strengthened its foothold in the US, the largest market for the global pharmaceutical sector, but bolstered its position as one of the world’s largest full-service medical communications groups.

“This is a major milestone for Fishawack and we look forward to continuing to support the team as they deliver their growth ambitions.”

Oliver Dennis, CEO of Fishawack, added: “The financial backing and support of our investment partner LDC is enabling us to accelerate our international growth strategy. Through creative agency Carling Communications we’re now able to offer clients a comprehensive healthcare marketing service for the first time, while the addition of MCME bolsters our medical education offering. This deal marks the seventh strategic acquisition during our 16-year history and a significant step in the expansion of our reach, capabilities and client base.”

Commenting on the deal, Didi Discar, Principal at Carling Group, added: “This deal signals a new beginning in our offering. Our skills complement each other and provide synergies that will significantly benefit current and future clients, while building on our shared vision of excellence, integrity and respect. As part of the Fishawack Group we join a truly global network. This is not only a boost for our ability to provide expanded client support, but also for career and development opportunities for both Carling and Fishawack employees.”

BDO provided buy-side M&A advice (Ruth Percival) and financial due diligence (Chris Heatlie and Vinod Patel), KPMG (Steven Heath, Chris Wilson and Mathias Reiter) provided tax advice, Clearwater International provided debt advice (Tom Barnwell) and Candesic (Marc Kitten and Dr Joe Taylor) provided commercial due diligence. Hill Dickinson (Craig Scott and Michael Murphy), Foley & Lardener in the US (Beni Surpin and Carrie Long) and Addleshaw Goddard (Paul Medlicott, George Danczak and Ben Edwards) provided legal advice. Orricks in San Diego advised Carling management.

1. LDC is the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

2. LDC backs ambitious management teams from UK-based companies seeking up to £100m of equity for management buy-outs, institutional buy-outs or development capital transactions.

3. LDC is celebrating its 35th anniversary and has completed more than 550 investments since 1981.

4. LDC has a portfolio of 90 businesses across the UK which collectively generates £5.5bn of revenues and employs in excess of 40,000 people.

5. LDC invests in a broad range of sectors and has particular experience in Construction & Property, Financial Services, Healthcare, Industrials, Retail & Consumer, TMT, Travel & Leisure and Support Services.

6. LDC has committed to invest £1.2bn in UK mid-market businesses over the next three years.

7. Over the last three years (2014-16), LDC has invested over £1bn of equity and generated exit proceeds of more than £2bn.

8. LDC is the leading private equity company in the UK mid-market. Recent transactions include investments with Fishawack Group, Addo, Hill Biscuits, Blue Bay Travel, Lucid Group, Rush, ChargePoint, Mitrefinch, PAW and Team17.

9. LDC has a UK regional network with offices in Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Manchester, Nottingham and Reading.

10. For further information, visit www.ldc.co.uk/pressrelease