June 21 (Reuters) - Clinical researcher and pharmaceutical market data specialist Quintiles IMS Holdings Inc is exploring a sale of its contract sales business that could value it at as much as $1 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.
The sale process comes as Quintiles IMS seeks to prune some of its non-core businesses in the wake of the $17.6 billion merger last year that saw IMS Health Holdings Inc and Quintiles Transnational Holdings Inc combine.
Contract sales organizations have been under pressure in recent years, as large pharmaceutical companies increasingly rely on their own internal salesforce.
Quintiles IMS has hired investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc to carry out a sale process for the contract sales business, which is still in the early stages, four sources said, cautioning that no deal is certain.
The business for sale has 12-month earnings before interest, depreciation, and amortization of around $100 million, the sources said. Private equity firms have expressed interest in the auction, the sources added.
The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. Quintiles IMS, which is based in Danbury, Connecticut and Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, did not respond to a request for comment. Goldman Sachs declined to comment.
The Quintiles and IMS merger is so far proving to be a win for the combined company, which says it has added $400 million in revenues that it otherwise would not have obtained thanks to its new capabilities. Quintiles IMS now has a market capitalization of $19.4 billion.
The merger was largely aimed at giving Quintiles contract research business access to IMS's rich streams of drug use data to help it better plan clinical trials and build a case for why its clients' drugs are differentiated from the competition.
The pharmaceutical outsourcing industry has been undergoing a wave of consolidation, largely driven by contract researchers, as pharmaceutical companies cut costs, reduce clinical trial times and expand their research and development presence around the world.
Earlier this week, buyout firm Pamplona Capital Management agreed to buy contract researcher Parexel International Corp for around $4.5 billion.
Last month, INC Research Holdings Inc agreed to merge with inVentiv Health Inc in a $4.6 billion deal.
(Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis and Carl O'Donnell in New York)