(Reuters) - Private equity firm EQT said on Tuesday it has agreed to acquire U.S. drug development consultancy Certara for $850 million, including debt, from Arsenal Capital Partners, another buyout firm.
The deal marks EQT's second major investment in the U.S. healthcare sector, and highlights the continued appetite for companies that help drugmakers with their research and development processes. News of the deal was first reported by Reuters.
Princeton, New Jersey-based Certara provides technology and consulting services aimed at helping pharmaceutical companies obtain approval for their treatments.
It offers a novel technology that allows drugmakers to model the performance of drugs, in some cases reducing the need for costly and potentially dangerous clinical testing.
Certara also operates a consulting arm aimed at assisting drug makers with submissions to regulators.
"Today, Certara is the global leader in an exciting and rapidly developing market, uniquely positioned to transform the field of drug development," Eric Liu, a partner at EQT, said in a statement.
Last year, Stockholm, Sweden-based EQT made its first major U.S. healthcare investment, buying Press Ganey Holdings Inc, a provider of patient satisfaction surveys, for around $2.35 billion.
EQT has made more than $8 billion in healthcare investments in the past three years, including in companies such as prosthetics maker Ottobock and Sivantos Group, one of the world's leading manufacturers of hearing aids.
There has been a flurry of private equity investments in the pharmaceutical services sector in recent years, as the sector benefits from pharmaceutical companies' drive to cut costs, reduce clinical trial times and expand their research and development presence around the world.
Recent deals include INC Research Holdings Inc's $7.4 billion merger with inVentiv Health Holdings and Quintiles Transnational Holdings Inc's $17.6 billion merger with IMS Health Holdings Inc.
Reporting by Carl O'Donnell in New York; Editing by Marguerita Choy