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From an independent company to part of PharmaLex Group – how it all happened

When a company reaches a certain size and a certain level of maturity, the investors and other industry operators start to show interest. That is what happened to us too. For several years, we kept sending the suitors away, but as DRA’s 20th anniversary was approaching, it was finally time to consider saying “yes”. It was time to start screening the perfect partner for building our future business and for strengthening our internationalisation strategy.

It felt important for us to find common ground with someone who would share the same values with us, just like in a couple relationship. In a couple, you need to have the same vision of the future, and the steps towards that future should feel right and be taken in mutual understanding. Together, you want to conquer the world and go hand in hand to overcome the challenges and struggles of everyday life.

In times when the demand collapses temporarily or key persons leave the company the entrepreneur can say goodbye to good sleep. As an entrepreneur, you are responsible for many families’ living. In those moments, one starts to wonder if it would be better to face such situations and share the financial risks with a partner. Perhaps someone a little bigger and stronger than you. At the same time, the idea of losing one’s autonomy feels worrying.

Our cultures and values were a match, and the candidate company immediately felt like family to us. In this situation, it was easy to say “yes”.

Finally, from all the candidates, we found THE ONE. The negotiations with our chosen candidate were conducted in a friendly and respectful atmosphere. Our cultures and values were a match, and the candidate company immediately felt like family to us. In this situation, it was easy to say “yes”.

The transition from engagement to final commitment was assisted by experts of mergers and acquisitions. With their help, we prepared a teaser of our company, and after that, a letter of intent between DRA and our future partner was signed. Next, it was time for due diligence during which our company was carefully X-rayed from various angles: legal, fiscal and economic. Hundreds of detailed questions were asked and answered in a virtual data room opened for this purpose. At this point, the lawyers of the future buyer stepped in – but not yet ours. We wanted to find an agreement on the commercial points and conditions first.

When everything seemed clear, it was time for the lawyers of both the parties to start negotiating – to dig into the details. At times, it felt like we were part of a play – or even a comedy – in which eventually, the law firms would make the biggest profit. The negotiations were run through the whole summer and holiday season. The topics of the discussions varied: it could be anything from checking the GDPR responsibilities to examining our company’s parking lot rental agreements. For the same summer, me and my family had planned the longest sailing trip of our life, from the southern coast of Sweden to Norway. The number of Teams meetings I attended while rocking on the waves of the North Sea! Each meeting meant one step forward on our journey towards the final act.

As a seller, it is good to keep in mind that after the signing, certain financial warranties and responsibilities will last for a long time. At DRA, we have always done business with a pharmaceutical accuracy and by the book. And yet, the demands and requests for warranties brought up by the lawyers raised some concerns about the potential risks for us.

In the end, the situation in which the merger agreement was signed was rather stark. A huge step for an entrepreneur, a small step for a corporation: only a few emails and then DocuSigning – and that was it. This happened on one afternoon as I was on my way to a crayfish party at my friends’ house – we simply stopped our car by the winding road. No more reviews at that point: we decided to trust the lawyers and bankers who had been so great in helping us along the whole process. We, the three owners, each in different places, connected through Teams to confirm that we were indeed going to sell all DRA’s shares. We still asked each other if we were sure about it and if we were making the right choice. You can never be absolutely certain about anything, but the decision felt right enough. We believed it would open many doors for our company, our clients and our experts.

We will be able to double our offering to our clients, and we will truly be a one-stop shop for the pharmaceutical and health tech companies

The buyer, PharmaLex is a global pharmaceutical consultancy company, not a private equity investment firm. They are in many ways like us, and they know how to do this business. From a legal perspective, we will be part of their Nordic organisation. We will get a new hygge Nordic home, and our dream of having a strong focus on the Nordics will come true. We will be able to double our offering to our clients, and we will truly be a one-stop shop for the pharma and health tech companies – like a big Online shop with a physical store and familiar faces serving our clients in Finland. We continue to hire new experts in Finland, our management team is Finnish, and we pay our taxes to Finland. Welcome to shop expert solutions or to work with us!