Oracle Corp
. (ORCL) announced the acquisition of the drug software maker Phase Forward Inc. (PFWD) for approximately $685 million in cash, or $17.00 per share.
Phase Forward is a leading provider of applications to life sciences companies and healthcare providers. The deal is valued at a 30% premium to the closing price of Phase Forward of $13.08 a share on Thursday.
Following the announcement, shares of Phase Forward rose 28.4% and closed at $16.80, while shares of Oracle fell 0.95% to $25.95.
The acquisition of Phase Forward aims to strengthen Oracle’s strategy to provide mission-critical applications for key industries and expand Oracle’s solutions for the Life Sciences and Healthcare Industries. This is the largest software acquisition for Oracle in the last two years.
Phase Forward’s SaaS-based Integrated Clinical Research Suite manages clinical development and safety processes from Phase 1 clinical trials through regulatory submission and post-approval monitoring. Phase Forward is a leading provider of electronic data capture and other technologies for clinical studies.
The assets of Phase Forward will complement Oracle Health Sciences assets and the combination will enable researchers, clinical development professionals, physicians, regulators and patients to more effectively and securely capture, contribute, access and share data, the company said.
Phase Forward management and employees are expected to join Oracle as part of the Oracle Health Sciences Global Business Unit. The transaction is subject to stockholder and regulatory approval and is expected to close in mid 2010.
The acquisition will also help Oracle gain Phase Forward’s customers such as AstraZeneca Plc (AZN), Glaxo SmithKline Plc (GSK), Merck & Co Inc (MRK) and Novartis AG (NVS). The acquisition will help Oracle compete against Medidata Solutions Inc. (MDSO), a leading drug software maker.          
Oracle acquired Phase Forward in an effort to expand its offerings in the healthcare sector, which is one of the key areas of growth. Previously, Oracle announced its decision to acquire privately held Relsys International Inc, a software provider to pharmaceutical companies.
The acquisition of Phase Forward is a good investment for Oracle in our view and therefore we maintain our Neutral recommendation on Oracle.


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