RALEIGH – PRA Health Sciences on Wednesday morning announced financials that exceeded Wall Street expectations – and then disclosed it had been acquired in a $12 billion deal by Ireland-based ICON. As a result, Raleigh will lose a company headquarters.

The combined ICON-PRA company will be based in Dublin.

And ICON is paying a big price – the deal is valued at 30% about PRA’s stock price before the announcement. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.

Shares of PRA (Nasdaq: PRAH) soared more than 20% on the news to $154. The firm has some 17,000 employees worldwide. The company moved its headquarters to Raleigh in 2008 (current location is on Parklake Avenue near Crabtree Valley Mall) and has approximately 600 employees in Raleigh, according to the Triangle Book of Lists.

PRA Health, ICON cite several major reasons – including cost savings – for $12B merger

Colin Shannon, the chair and CEO of PRA, will join the board of the combined company once the deal is closed.

ICON, which has some 19,000 employees, and PRA were competitors in the global life sciences business known as contract research organizations, or CROs.

The Triangle is a hub for the CRO industry, home or site for major operations for such firms as Syneos Health, IQVIA, LabCorp, Parexel and  PPD.

Steve Cutler, CEO of ICON, will run the combined company.

In the announcement, Shannon explained the reasoning for the deal:

“I joined PRA 13 years ago to help build a company that would make a difference in the world and transform the way we developed new medicines. The way we do it now takes far too long and costs far too much. Critically ill patients can’t wait for cures. Underserved populations can’t wait for access. Every day counts. COVID-19 created a platform for change that we cannot ignore. The pandemic accelerated the adoption of mobile health technologies and healthcare intelligence tools – tools that PRA helped develop – at an unprecedented rate. The union of PRA and ICON will create an organization that has the people, data and technology to bring those cures to patients faster and more efficiently than ever before. We are thrilled to be joining with ICON, a company with a similar culture and values. I’m deeply indebted to PRA’s 19,000 talented employees who have helped us bring this vision closer to reality. We stand together now because patients can’t wait.”

PRA shareholders will receive $80 in cash and 0.4125 shares of ICON stock.

ICON trades on the Nasdaq under the symbol ICLR. ICON shares fell some 7% to $195 on the news.

“The combined company will create a new paradigm for accelerating clinical research and bringing new medicines and devices to market,” said ICON CEO Cutler said.

“Both ICON and PRA have track records of robust growth and performance and we are ready to build on this unrivalled position of strength, utilising the outstanding talent in both organisations. With broader and deeper operational scale combined with innovative technology and real world data solutions, we will enable all customers to reduce their development time and cost. We will be the leading provider of de-centralised and hybrid trial solutions through the integration of our data capabilities, health platforms and Accellacare site network. The transaction will be highly accretive from full year 1 post-close.”