March 3, 2016 / 7:25 PM / a year ago

Exclusive: InVentiv Health hires underwriters for IPO - sources

(Reuters) - InVentiv Health Inc, a U.S. provider of consulting and research services to biopharmaceutical companies, has hired underwriters for an initial public offering that could raise around $500 million, according to people familiar with the matter.

Thomas H. Lee Partners LP, the private equity firm that owns inVentiv, has tapped Credit Suisse Group AG CSGN.VX and Morgan Stanley (MS.N) to lead the IPO, the people said this week.

The offering could come later this year, subject to market conditions, the people added. The sources asked not to be identified because the IPO plans are confidential.

Thomas H. Lee and Credit Suisse declined to comment, while inVentiv and Morgan Stanley did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The offering could be one of this year's largest IPOs in the United States, in what has otherwise been a slow start for stock market flotations due to persistent market volatility.

No private equity-owned company has braved the tough IPO market so far this year. The significant debt burden of many of these companies makes them unattractive to IPO investors at a time when they are wary of taking on risk. This is despite some of them pledging to use the IPO proceeds to pay back debt.

Waste management company Advanced Disposal Services Inc (ADSW.N), owned by private equity firm Highstar Capital LP, came close to launching its IPO last month but pulled it after its investor road show, blaming jitters over the turbulent market.

Other companies that registered for an IPO in 2015 are still waiting in the wings. They include Spanish-language broadcaster Univision Holdings Inc (UVN.N), grocery retailer Albertsons Companies Inc (ABS.N)> and department store operator Neiman Marcus Group.

Last week, US Foods Holding Corp, a Rosemont, Illinois-based food distributor, was close to hiring Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N), JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) and Morgan Stanley for its roughly $1 billion IPO this year, sources previously told Reuters.

Burlington, Massachusetts-based inVentiv performs healthcare services for pharmaceutical, biotechnology, drug and medical device companies. It advises its clients in areas that include marketing, consulting and behavioral insight.

The industry is benefiting from a wider shift in the pharmaceutical sector away from in-house research and toward utilizing external resources, including clinical outsourcing firms, in a bid to achieve savings.

In the first nine months of 2015, inVentiv had net revenue of $1.46 billion, up from $1.3 billion in the corresponding period a year earlier, according to its latest published quarterly earnings. Total borrowings as of the end of September were $2.2 billion.

The company was taken private by Thomas H. Lee in 2010 in a $1.1 billion deal.

Reporting by Lauren Hirsch and Carl O'Donnell in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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