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Phenna Group Acquires Cardiff-Based Drug and Alcohol Testing Firm

A Cardiff-based drug, alcohol and steroid testing service has been acquired by Phenna Group.

Cansford Laboratories was set up in 2010 and has established its position as a fast, reliable, and innovative leader in high quality drug, alcohol, and steroid testing. Its founders pioneered hair testing more than 25 years ago, dedicating their careers since to improving and expanding the possibilities of drug and alcohol testing.

Today, its methods are used by laboratories across the globe. Cansford’s team of experts offer hair, oral fluid, nail, and dry blood spot testing with related services including collection and expert witness support.

Lexington Corporate Finance acted as the sole corporate finance advisor to the shareholders of Cansford on its sale to Phenna, which is backed by private equity fund Oakley Capital.

Phenna is a global provider of testing, inspection, certification and compliance (TICC) services and has made over 35 acquisitions since its inception in 2018. Oakley is a prominent mid-market private equity fund with offices in London, Milan, Munich and Luxembourg. It invested in Phenna in November 2022 in a deal that valued Phenna at more than £1bn, providing an exit for Inflexion Private Equity.

The acquisition of the market leading Cansford is the fifth of the year for Phenna and augments its developing health sciences division. Paul Barry, Group CEO of Phenna Group said, “Cansford Laboratories is a business that we’ve admired for a while, and I’m absolutely delighted that John and Lolita have decided to partner with us.  From our early engagements, it was very obvious our values and cultures aligned and that together, we could continue to build on their already impressive track record.

Lexington acted as the lead advisor on the transaction with the team of Thomas Edwards, Courtney Mattocks and Jade Burgess managing all communications, negotiating the terms of the deal with Phenna and directing the process through to a successful completion.

Thomas Edwards, a director at Lexington Corporate Finance, said:

“It came as no surprise to us that there was significant interest in Cansford from both trade and private equity buyers, considering the organisation’s impressive reputation as a leader in high quality drug, alcohol, and steroid testing.

“The business has scaled up considerably since its formation in 2010, thanks to the leadership of John Wicks and Lolita Tsanaclis, so it needed a buyer that matched this ambition. From working with Cansford it became clear that Phenna was the ideal fit.

“This transaction builds on Lexington’s strong credentials in the healthcare and TICC sectors, increasing the total value of deals Lexington has advised on in 2023 to almost £150 million.”

John Wicks, Cansford CEO, said:

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Phenna Group. Having been through acquisition processes in the past, I fully appreciate how challenging they can be. Since first meeting Paul and his team, they acted very professionally, ensuring a smooth and commercially focused process.  Our interactions have been very straight forward, and I’m convinced that Phenna will provide exactly the support we need to help us deliver our exciting future growth plans.

“Cansford Laboratory have a great team culture and securing a partner that valued that was paramount in our decision making. I look forward to working with the Phenna Group team into the future.”

Emma Borrington, Owen James and Jacob Sims of Berry Smith provided legal advice to the shareholders.


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