Local News

High-Flyer: Pelican Life Sciences Takes Off With $100 Million in Financing

Posted April 24, 2006

— Backed by $100 million in equity financing, a new life sciences company is off to a soaring start.

Pelican Life Sciences

emerged from stealth mode on Monday, unveiling its management team, its first acquisition, its targeted markets and its heavyweight financial backers.

"We feel very bullish about the opportunity," said Bill Baugh, the company's chief executive officer who has lived in North Carolina for 20 years. "We think we have an excellent team, we have a very experienced team in this sector, and we are very comfortable with our financial partners."

Pelican will focus on life science reagents and specialty consumables. "We are not a research company," Baugh explained. "We are like the picks and shovels companies were to the mining companies. We are a tools company. We supply the tools that applied to scientific industry."

Backing the new venture that is based near Charlotte, are Grotech Capital Group, which has some $1 billion under management, and Ferrer Freeman & Company, which manages a $900 million private equity fund focused on the healthcare industry.

"We're very fortunate to have the individuals on board that we do and have their depth and experience," Baugh said. "We're dealing with individuals who are very experienced in healthcare which is highly beneficial."

Previously, Baugh served as president of global laboratory products for Fisher Scientific International. He also worked at Nucor for 10 years.

Jeff Leathe is president of the new venture. Leathe is a former chief financial officer of Apogent Technologies.

Paul Nowak, the chief operating officer of Symx Technologies, has joined Pelican as a director.

Pelican will use part of its war chest to make acquisitions. In December, Pelican acquired PML Microbiologicals, which provides various microbiological products to clinical and research markets. PML is based near Portland OR.

Pelican has seven employees at its Huntersville office and more than 200 employees at PML.

Baugh and his partners have been working on the venture since 2004.

"It took me approximately 14 months between concept and closing our first transaction in December," Baugh said. "At the close of the transaction in December, we signed the commitment papers on the financing."

Pelican's launch and first deal were financed by Baugh and other managers, he said.

Baugh, a native of Washington state who admitted with a laugh that he's lived long enough in the South to develop a southern accent, worked at Fisher Scientific for five years before deciding to strike out on his own.

"I had been exposed to this market with Fisher, and for the last couple years I was exploring entrepreneurial opportunities," he said.

Baugh decided to locate the company in Huntersville since that is where he lives. He also said being close to Charlotte gives Pelican executives good access to transportation.

"Our businesses are all over the globe as well as our customers," he said.

Pelican will add additional people in Huntersville, although the plan is to keep the corporate presence small, Baugh added. As for growing the company, Baugh indicated more news would be forthcoming.

"We hope to make more acquisitions in the near future," he said.

As for the company's name, Baugh admitted he didn't have a particular fondness for pelicans - at least before he started the company.

"We obviously thought Pelican would have name recognition," he explained. "We also thought it went very well with the life science segment from an environmental and ecological standpoint. But I admit I'm developing quite an affinity for pelicans."

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