Frazier grabs AndersonBrecon as it bulks up in packaging

Frazier Healthcare, the Seattle-based investment firm, sees opportunity in drug packaging. For the second time in 11 months, it has put together a deal to buy a pharmaceutical packaging operation, this time picking up the largest contract operator in the U.S.

Frazier is leading a group of investors that will pay $308 million for AndersonBrecon, the packaging business of drug services company AmerisourceBergen ($ABC). Last year, Frazier bought the packaging business of Catalent Pharma Solutions, which it now operates as Packaging Coordinators (PCI). By mashing the two operations together, the company said it will be able to offer services worldwide. "We are pleased to merge two stellar players within the pharmaceutical and biotech packaging business," said Nathan Every, a general partner for Frazier Healthcare who sits on the PCI board, in a release. The company did not respond to a request for more details. 

AndersonBrecon is itself the combination of two packaging businesses. AmerisourceBergen bought the U.K.-based Brecon Pharmaceuticals in 2006 for $28 million, expanding its footprint in the rapidly growing clinical trial packaging sector. It merged that with the U.S.-based Anderson Packaging, creating an operation with 12 facilities, a presence in 100 countries and about 1,500 employees. With a million square feet of capacity, the company claimed it was the largest contract packager in the U.S.

But AmerisourceBergen said in November it wanted to bow out of packaging so it could focus on its drug distribution, logistics and other pharmaceutical services. Last week, that focus sharpened when it announced a deal to become the primary distributor for Walgreen ($WAG) and Alliance Boots, the U.K.-based pharmacy operator and drug distributor. Walgreen paid $6.7 billion last year for a 45% stake in Alliance Boots. AmerisourceBergen will handle branded drugs for the two chains this year and pick up generics next year. Walgreen and Alliance Boots also worked the deal so they will take a minority stake in AmerisourceBergen, starting with 7%. Walgreen has more than 8,000 drugstores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, and Alliance Boots has operations in more than 25 countries.

- here's the Frazier release
- read the AmerisourceBergen release
- see the Bloomberg story

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