Avista in $350m pharma exit

The firm has sold biopharmaceutical testing company BioReliance, which it acquired in 2007 for $210m.

Avista Capital Partners has agreed to sell biopharmaceutical testing company BioReliance to Nasdaq-listed Sigma-Aldrich for $350 million.

BioReliance provides biologics testing and toxicology and animal health testing services. Avista purchased a majority stake in the company in 2007 for $210 million, investing from the firm’s debut fund that collected $2 billion that year. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2012.

Avista Capital Partners was not available for comment at press time. JP Morgan acted as financial advisor to the transaction.

Avista, which invests in the healthcare, media, industrial and energy sectors, is currently raising its third buyout fund targeting $2 billion. Fund III will invest in companies in North America and Western Europe.

In a recent survey from private equity advisory group Fimeris, limited partners said healthcare services was the most attractive sector for investment, followed by energy and utilities and business services.

In October, the firm hired Håkan Björklund, the former chief executive officer of Scandinavian pharmaceutical company Nycomed, as a healthcare operating executive. Nycomed, a former portfolio company of Avista, Nordic Capital DLJ Merchant Banking and Coller International Partners, was sold to Takeda Pharmaceutical Company for €9.6 billion in May 2011.

Avista was founded in 2005 as a spinout from Credit Suisse First Boston. Limited partners in its previous two funds include New York City Employees' Retirement System, the New York City Police Pension Fund, the Teachers’ Retirement System of the City of New York and the North Carolina State Treasury.