EQT acquires majority interest in Asia cancer center network

Barely a week after expanding its footprint in the European healthcare venture capital sector via an agreement to acquire Life Sciences Partners, Swedish private equity giant EQT (EQT 20,55 +0,82 +4,16%) added Australia’s Icon Group to its Asia Pacific healthcare holdings.

EQT has acquired the interests of a consortium of Goldman Sachs (GS 389,30 +6,57 +1,72%) Asset Management, Australian government-owned investment manager Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC) and China’s Pagoda Investment in Brisbane-based Icon Group.

Financial terms were not disclosed. Goldman Sachs Asset Management is retaining a minority position, while Icon Group’s management and a number of doctors are also re-investing.

Stephanie Hui, co-head of alternatives investing at Goldman Sachs Asset Management in Asia, said the firm is pleased with the growth the Icon Group displayed during its four years as a majority investor. “Remaining as a shareholder, we will leverage our global network, capital, and industry expertise to continue to support Icon’s management and doctors,” she added.

Icon Group runs a network of 48 comprehensive cancer centers and clinical research hubs providing quality radiation and inpatient oncology services in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Mainland China. The firm’s business model has shown resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing it to expand its specialized pharmacy, chemotherapy compounding and clinical research offerings across APAC. The new investment is expected to allow Icon Group to continue to further expand its successful model into Asia and gain a foothold in the northern hemisphere.

“Icon Group is revolutionizing the way cancer care is delivered through an integrated model that enables access for all patients through the decentralization of care in major cities and bringing cancer care services to the patient in the one location,” said Ken Wong, partner and head of EQT Infrastructure’s Asia Pacific Advisory Team. “This best practice cancer care model is well validated in Australia and South-East Asia, and EQT’s investment will enable this next phase of growth around the world.”

In addition to providing patient care, Icon Group also operates as a clinical research organization (CRO), and bills itself as the largest operator of Phase I clinical trials in Australia. The company aims to leverage its clinical trials experience to introduce never-before-seen trials into Singapore and Hong Kong and set the stage for the development of potential life-saving treatments.

The APAC pharmaceutical CRO market is expected to grow by 9.6% annually with a total addressable market cap of $238.7 billion over the 2020-2030 period, according to ResearchAndMarkets. Earlier this month, Blackstone (BX 139,33 +4,61 +3,42%) made a play in this arena by agreeing to acquire Melbourne-based CRO Nucleus Network from Australian private equity firm Crescent Capital.

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