PAI Buys French Lab Testing Company

(Reuters) – French buyout firm PAI Partners bought lab testing business Laboratoire Cerba from rival IK Investment Partners as private equity snapped up yet another healthcare business.

Scandinavian buyout firm IK said on Wednesday that PAI, which recently floated Danish food ingredients group Chr. Hansen, had agreed to buy the business for an undisclosed sum.

Cerba was expected to fetch around 10 times its 55 million euros ($73.79 million) in EBITDA, a person familiar with the situation previously told Reuters.

Cerba, which estimates consolidated sales of 250 million euros in 2010, operates in all three segments of clinical pathology — esoteric, routine and central lab testing. Its 1,300 staff across Europe, the United States, South Africa, Australia and China carry out 85,000 tests a day.

“The group will continue its strategy of internationalisation of the central lab segment and reinforcing its positioning in France, Belgium and the rest of Europe,” PAI partner Frederic Stevenin said in a statement.

The French routine pathology market is undergoing restructuring, Stevenin said, with Cerba hoping to collaborate with independent players in the sector.

The healthcare market has shown increasing signs of life after Cinven [CINV.UL] snapped up labs business Sebia and Apax Partners acquired medical courier Marken, pre-empting auction processes.

Other healthcare businesses on the block include Scandinavia’s Aleris, owned by EQT, and clinic partner Medi-Partenaires, owned by LBO France.

($1=.7453 Euro) (Reporting by Simon Meads; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)