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Covid trials vaccine firm Icon announces €10bn US takeover deal

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THE Dublin company that last year ran the clinical trials that helped bring the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine to market has now announced one of the biggest takeover deals in Irish corporate history. Icon Plc has agreed to merge with smaller US peer PRA Health Sciences in a deal worth $12bn (€9.88bn).

On completion of the transaction, Icon shareholders will own approximately 66pc of the merged company while PRA shareholders will own approximately 34pc, as well as receiving a cash payment.

The combined group will be headquartered in Dublin, where Icon already has its main offices employing 1,000 people. The enlarged group’s Irish base means tax savings are also a key component to the deal – bringing US-based PRA under the Irish corporation tax regime. Icon said the combined effective tax rate will decrease to 14pc for the group.

It will create one of the world's leading clinical trials companies, with market-leading positions in several key segments and relationships with most of the top 20 biopharma companies.

The cash and stock transaction represents a 30pc premium to PRA's share price yesterday.

The deal is expected to combine Icon's expertise in home health services and wearables with PRA's digital capabilities.

“The combined company will create a new paradigm for accelerating clinical research and bringing new medicines and devicees to market," said Icon CEO Dr Steven Cutler, who will lead the combined business once the deal closes.

"Both Icon and PRA have track records of robust growth and performance and we are ready to build on this unrivalled position of strength, utilising the outstanding talent in both organisations. With broader and deeper operational scale combined with innovative technology and real-world data solutions, we will enable all customers to reduce their development time and cost."

Icon told shareholders the transaction is expected to deliver a value boost of more than 20pc, driven by growth and cost take-outs of €150m after the merger. Icon's market capitalisation yesterday stood at €11bn.

The transaction is due to close by end-September 2021.

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