Romney Firm To Buy NHS Supplier In £200m Deal
The private equity firm once led by Mitt Romney, the former US Presidential candidate, is to take control of Plasma Resources UK (PRUK), the major blood plasma supplier to the NHS.
Sky News can exclusively reveal that Bain Capital is to buy an 80% stake in PRUK in a deal worth at least £200m.
The deal will continue the Government's policy of privatising non-core assets, with PRUK joining a list of companies being sold into the private sector that includes Royal Mail, Urenco, the nuclear fuel processor, and chunks of the student loan portfolio.
Insiders said the sale of PRUK was likely to be announced on Friday, although it could be brought forward following the disclosure of the deal, which was signed overnight. It is expected to take about a fortnight to complete.
PRUK, which has annual sales of around £110m, operates a business called Bio Products Laboratory, which employs around 200 people in the UK and more than 1,000 in the US.
The deal includes guarantees safeguarding UK jobs and investment, meaning that the headline figure attached to it could be significantly higher than £200m.
The Government will retain a 20% stake in PRUK, and has insisted on warrants giving it a share of potential future profits.
A source close to Bain said the firm was focused on "creating a UK champion" and would be investing in growing PRUK's plant in Elstree, Hertfordshire.
Insiders said that ministers were apprehensive about the idea of selling a major NHS supplier to an overseas private equity firm but had concluded that the Bain deal offered the best value-for-money.
Bain, which owns companies such as Worldpay, the payment systems processor, and Securitas Direct, the alarms manufacturer, saw off competition for PRUK from rivals such as Baxter International, a specialist in the treatment of blood-related disorders.
Sky News first reported on Bain's interest in March.
The US division of PRUK was acquired after the Government banned the use of British blood-derived products in 1999 following the risk of contamination with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). Experts expect the ban to remain in place for many years.
In a statement in January, Dan Poulter, the health minister, said: "We are taking this action to secure a viable future for the company and its employees in the long term and to ensure that patients will continue to have access to high-quality medical products.
"No final decisions about this sale have been made and the Department of Health may continue to retain a stake in the business. We will choose the best offer to ensure that high-quality medical products continue to be available to patients."
The Department of Health was unavailable for comment, while Bain declined to comment.