PE-backed biotech platform launched

Pelican Life Sciences has emerged from the shadows with $100 million in financing from Grotech Capital and Ferrer Freeman.

Pelican Life Sciences sprung onto the biotech scene Monday with the announcement of $100 million (€81 million) in private equity funding from Grotech Capital Group and Ferrer Freeman & Company.

The new Huntersville, North Carolina-based platform company also took the opportunity to unveil its management team and its first acquisition.

Pelican is being led by chief executive officer Bill Baugh and president Jeff Leathe. Baugh served as the president of Global Laboratory Products for Fisher Scientific International from 1997 to 2001; Leathe was the chief financial officer of Apogent Technologies from 1990 through 2002.

“We plan on acquiring smaller life science consumable companies,” said Baugh, explaining the company’s mission. “These are companies that supply tools to scientific researchers, all the stuff that’s used in a life science laboratory.”

Baugh said he hopes Pelican’s strategy of acquiring smaller companies in a very fragmented industry will provide the benefits of scale.

“We would like to create a $200 to $500 million company over the next five to seven years,” he said.

The platform’s funding will be used to acquire companies that support the pharmaceutical, biotech and academic research market.

Pelican has already acquired its first company, Portland, Oregon-based PML Microbiologicals, which it bought in December 2005. PML has provided microbiological products to the clinical and research markets for 35 years, and has manufacturing and distribution facilities in the US and Canada.

Pelican is still young, with only seven employees at its Huntersville office. PML has 200 employees.

The platform’s private equity sponsors both have strong healthcare backgrounds, and Baugh says they’re in it for the long haul. Baltimore, Maryland-based Grotech Capital Group has roughly $1 billion under management, and Greenwich, Connecticut-based Ferrer Freeman manages a $900 million fund focused on the healthcare industry.