Spirit Medical Communications sold to OPEN Health

Corporate Finance advisor BCMS has advised leading UK independent medical communications agency Spirit Medical Communications Group Ltd (Spirit), on its sale to OPEN Health.

Founded in 2006 by Asif Zaman, and based at premises in Didsbury, Manchester and Alderley Park, Cheshire, Spirit offers full-service medical communications throughout the product lifecycle, with deep expertise across a range of therapy areas. Services include publication planning, medical strategy, medical education, scientific meetings, training and digital solutions.

“This transaction has exceeded my expectations… BCMS worked in partnership with me at all times, always in my corner, offering straight-talking advice and valued support” – Asif Zaman, founder, Spirit

Spirit employs 80+ highly qualified employees including post-docs, PhDs and Certified Medical Publication Professionals (CMPP). The business has established exceptional working relationships with its diverse and growing international client base within pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and consumer health. Spirit has a strong focus on global and regional programmes with Medical Affairs and allied stakeholders in Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR), Clinical Development and Market Access, working across >20 therapy areas in the past year alone.

OPEN Health is a portfolio company of Amulet Capital Partners, LP, a US-based Private Equity firm focused exclusively on the healthcare sector. Formed in January 2011, OPEN Health is a global family of Centres of Excellence, working in partnership to drive positive change in healthcare communications and market access globally. OPEN Health partners with 48 of the top 50 Pharma companies, and its team of experts work strategically alongside client partners in Medical Affairs, HEOR, Market Access, and Commercial teams across a wide range of therapy areas.

This acquisition means OPEN Health will now consist of >850 people in 15 locations across 6 different countries including the USA, UK, The Netherlands, Germany, India and China.

Rob Barker, Chief Executive Officer at OPEN Health, said: “We are delighted to welcome Spirit into the OPEN Health family – this is a strategic acquisition that will enhance our global Medical Affairs resources, further supporting our unique range of offerings and opportunities for innovation to support industry change and growth.”

Deal insights and commentary

Spirit founder Asif Zaman commented: “I am delighted to see the business I started in 2006 move to the next level with OPEN Health. This transaction has exceeded my expectations, and not just in terms of my own personal outcome, but more importantly in finding the right home and cultural fit for Spirit and its fantastic team of medcomms professionals.

“I had been considering exit options since 2017 and have been working with BCMS for some time to make Spirit sale ready and maximise its appeal. In response to BCMS’ advice – and feedback from the market – we transformed business operations, established a high performing leadership team and fast-tracked infrastructural development. We diversified the client base and focused on operational and financial performance driven through our ‘people first’ ethos and nurturing talent. BCMS kept interested parties engaged and, when we pushed the button on a competitive sale process in early 2021, all of our extensive preparation and planning really paid off, ensuring optimal timing and conditions for progressing discussions with a broad range of potential buyers.

“BCMS worked in partnership with me at all times. As lead advisor, Jeremy Bate was a different league; always in my corner, offering straight-talking advice and valued support. I could pick up the phone at any time, and he and William Thompson project-managed the process and deal momentum expertly. They coached and guided me for interactions with prospective acquirers and the Information Memorandum they produced was first-class, expertly articulating the benefits of acquiring Spirit to interested parties, and, I believe, actively generating more interest in the business on our behalf.”

Jeremy Bate, Senior Director at BCMS, commented: “Exceeding client expectations is always immensely satisfying, and we very much enjoyed working with Asif and the team at Spirit to execute our sale strategy for the business. Getting the timing right was key here – we attracted broad interest in the business, in a sector which was experiencing significant demand for consolidation. Also key was a very patient and thorough approach to preparing the business for sale, which enabled us to attract, and then improve on, some strong valuations. OPEN Health was ultimately chosen as the preferred purchaser – a fantastic home for Spirit and its people, and we wish both teams all the very best for the future.”

Alongside corporate finance advice from BCMS, the shareholders of Spirit received legal advice from Pannone Corporate LLP and accounting/tax advice from Mitchell Charlesworth LLP.

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