By Claire Ruckin
LONDON, July 18 Private equity firm Bain Capital said on Thursday it had agreed to buy a majority stake in British government-owned Plasma Resources UK (PRUK) for 230 million pounds ($348.98 million).
The government has been seeking a private-sector partner to fund much-needed modernisation in PRUK, the Department of Health's blood plasma supplier.
Bain said it was planning to put more than 50 million pounds of capital investment in the business. The money will be used to increase PRUK's production capacity, refurbish facilities, develop new products and expand the company's international reach, it said in a statement.
The sale would add to the growing list of privatisations in Britain including a planned listing of a majority stake in the Royal Mail postal service on the stock market.
Lazard advised on the sale process which has seen Bain agree to buy an 80 percent stake in the company funded with equity and without third party bank debt, while the government will retain 20 percent, the announcement said.
The government said in January it would sell the majority or all of its shares in PRUK. It had previously said a sale to the private sector was in "the best interests of the company, the taxpayer and patients", citing an independent review.
Bain fought off competition for PRUK, which attracted interest from a number of potential buyers including South Korean drugmaker Green Cross Corp and German blood plasma specialist Biotest.
The majority buyout would further bolster Bain's presence in the healthcare sector. It is part of a consortium that bought hospital operator HCA in 2006 in a $21 billion deal. HCA is a big buyer of plasma-derived products.
Bain also owns Quintiles, a biopharmaceutical services provider, as well as pharmaceutical company Warner Chilcott.
PRUK's unit, Bio Products Laboratory Ltd, makes plasma products from blood given by donors at 32 centres in the United States operated by DCI Biologicals Inc. It does not draw on domestic donors due to concerns over the risk of transmitting variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in Britain. The business had annual sales of about 123 million pounds in 2011.
Plasma products are used to treat blood coagulation disorders, autoimmune diseases and immune deficiencies.