Bain Capital set to acquire Plasma Resoruces UK for £200 million

Bain Capital , the private equity firm once led by former US presidential candidate Mitt Romney, is set to take control of Plasma Resources UK (PRUK), the major supplier of blood plasma to the NHS.

Sky News said it could exclusively reveal that Bain Capital would acquire an 80 per cent stake in PRUK in a deal worth at least £200 million.

The deal would continue the government's policy of non-core assets privatisation, with the company joining several companies under sale to the private sector, including Royal Mail and nuclear fuel processor Urenco.

According to insiders, the sale would likely be announced on Friday, although it could be advanced after the deal disclosure, which was signed overnight. It would take about a fortnight to complete.

PRUK, with annual sales of around £110 million, operates a business called Bio Products Laboratory, employing around 200 people in the UK and over 1,000 in the US.

The deal would include guarantees safeguarding UK jobs and investment, meaning that the headline figure attached to it could be significantly higher than £200 million.

The government, which would retain a 20 per cent stake in PRUK, has insisted on warrants giving it a share of potential future profits.

According to Mail Online, which cited a source close to Bain, the firm was focused on creation of a UK champion that would be investing in growing PRUK's plant in Elstree, Hertfordshire.

Meanwhile, critics point out that the move could put blood supplies at risk of contamination due to the private equity firm failing to carry out rigorous safety checks.

Around 10,000 patients of blood clotting disorder haemophilia had, in the 1980s, contracted HIV or Aids following contamination of plasma supplies.

Plasma, the main component of blood, is given daily to thousands of patients, including burn victims – to increase their fluids – and to patients with liver or kidney disease.

Plasma, which also promotes blood clotting, is a vital resource for haemophiliacs and patients with other disorders at risk of major bleeds.

According to former health minister Lord Owen, there was a risk of contamination because Bain Capital might not have such stringent safeguards as a publicly-quoted firm answerable to shareholders.

According to him, it was hard to conceive of a worse outcome than a sale of this particularly sensitive national health asset to a private equity company with none of the safeguards in terms of governance of a publicly quoted company and being answerable to shareholders.