PE firm expands its reach in life sciences sector with latest deal

The Manchester team of private equity firm Palatine has concluded the acquisition of a majority stake in an international niche workforce solutions provider, for an undisclosed sum.

Skills Alliance is focused on the life sciences, medical device, and animal health sectors and operates from offices in Frankfurt, Zurich, New York, Seattle, and Newport Beach (CA).

It works on a retained basis for some of the largest pharmaceutical and biotech firms around the world.

With a team of 130, Skills Alliance was founded in 2004. It comprises three business units: SA Executive, SA Staffing and SA Consulting.

It is led by an experienced and ambitious management team including CEO Carl Marotta and Dan Shillingburg who leads the 35-strong US operation.

The business has an annual net fee income of £15m, and has almost doubled in size in the past 12 months as it has leveraged its niche focus in the high growth verticals it specialises in.

Palatine’s investment team was Andy Strickland, Rupert Brown, and Carly Sinicrope, with partner support from Tony Dickin.

Andy Strickland, senior investment director at Palatine, said: “Skills Alliance is a great business.

“During the investment process it was clear that we share a number of common values with them. Their commitment to people and ESG, particularly around promoting diversity and inclusion internally and for their clients, really stood out.

“Our strategic growth plan includes continuing to expand the consulting offering – which offers an outsourced recruitment and on-boarding service of permanent and temporary staff – and accelerating their international roll-out, particularly in North America and also in Europe.”

He added: “We will grow the team to support delivery and look at buy and build opportunities, too.”

Palatine has significant experience in the life sciences sector. Skills Alliance is the third transaction in the past 18 months – its Impact Fund invested in tranScrip Partners in early 2021, and then completed the strategic acquisition of Real Regulatory for tranScrip this year.

Investment in global healthcare continues at pace and Palatine is confident Skills Alliance is well placed to support this growth as the sector seeks to meet society’s demand for new therapies and solutions to help us lead healthier lives.

Carl Marotta, CEO of Skills Alliance, said: “The Skills Alliance leadership team is proud to be partnering with Palatine, together creating an exciting next chapter for both the organisation, and our remarkable colleagues who have demonstrated how passion and dedication can produce exceptional results.

“Palatine has invested in our business during a period of sustained growth, having exhibited throughout the process both their end sector knowledge and ability to create additional value.

“It was clear from the outset that we share the same people and culture values, specifically focusing on ESG as a core pillar around which we shape our behaviours and business decisions.”

He added: “Our vision has always been clear, by providing the very highest level of service, we can create a truly special business offering progressive career opportunities for our employees, and a best-in-class workforce solutions proposition for our clients and candidates. We look forward to the future and building on the Skills Alliance brand.”

Skills Alliance was previously owned by its management team and a private investor who has now exited.

Palatine was advised by Clearwater (corporate finance), law firm Gateley. Financial due diligence was provided by Dow Schofield Watts, RSM provided tax advice, while Luth Associates provided operational due diligence, Fairgrove provided commercial due diligence, Panamoure provided IT diligence and Lockton insurance.

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