INC Research, which provides contract laboratory services, said it would buy privately held inVentiv Health, which provides life sciences companies with drug development and consulting services, in a $4.6 billion deal.
Contract research organizations have benefited in recent years from the pharmaceutical companies' drive to cut costs, reduce clinical trial times and expand their research and development presence around the world.
The deal will expand the combined company's global presence in important geographies such as Asia/Pacific and specifically Japan, where there is significant opportunity for growth, INC Research and inVentiv said in a joint statement.
Private equity firms Advent International and Thomas H. Lee Partners, which has equal equity ownership of inVentiv, will continue to remain investors in the combined company and also get board seats on the new company, the company said.
INC Research shareholders are expected to own about 53 percent of the combined company, which will have an enterprise value of about $7.4 billion.
The deal will add to INC Research's adjusted earnings per share in the first 12 months after the deal closes, which is expected in the second half of this year, the companies said.
The deal comes two days after Reuters reported that contract drug research firm Parexel International is exploring a sale.
Centerview Partners is INC Research's financial adviser and Sullivan & Cromwell is its legal counsel.
Credit Suisse is inVentiv's financial adviser and Weil, Gotshal & Manges is its legal counsel.