Sykes to take stake in Apax buy-in

Sir Richard Sykes is to become chairman of Medeus, a new company which has acquired the drugs marketing arm of Elan Corporation in a $120m MBI funded by Apax Partners.

Sir Richard Sykes, the former chairman of GlaxoSmithKline and one of the UK’s most senior pharma executives, has joined forces with Apax Partners in the venture capitalist’s $120 million management buy-in of the European drug distribution arm of Elan Corporation.

The acquisition has been completed by Medeus Pharma, a new company funded by Apax.

Sir Richard, who retired from GSC in 2002 and who currently serves as rector of Imperial College London, will initially become the company’s unpaid non-executive chairman. A spokesperson at Apax confirmed that he is slated to become a shareholder in the business at a later stage.

Medeus has been set up to create a pan-European franchise marketing drugs directly to hospitals. The carved-out entity, which has $80 million in annual sales and 150 staff, is focused on oncology, critical care and niche therapeutic indications.

Medeus has assembled a team of experienced pharma professionals to run the business. Bryan Morton, a healthcare manager who during a 25 year career in the sector has worked for pharmaceutical groups Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb, has been appointed CEO. Steven Harris, a former executive at Powderject, becomes CFO, while Felix Botelho will have responsibility for new business development.

According to Tom Hall, a partner in Apax’ buyout team, Apax fully underwrote the transaction with a view to refinancing the business using debt instruments in due course.

Commenting on Apax' reasons for investing, Hall said Medeus was ideally positioned to market 'mid-size drugs' with less than $200 million in annual sales in the US, that were below the radar of large pharmaceutical groups, to the European hospital market. He said Medeus would be talking to US biotech companies and other potential partners about using its regulatory, marketing and distribution infrastructure and expertise.

Hall is to become a director at Medeus. Cathrin Petty, a director at Apax who joined the firm in 2000 from Schroder Venture Life Science, will also join the company’s board.