Afternoon Coffee: PRGX Global is acquired; US explores how to roll out coronavirus vaccine faster; UK and EU reach Brexit trade deal

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French private equity firm Ardian announced its acquisition of private audit and spending analytics provider PRGX Global, based in Atlanta.

PRGX analyzes business purchasing data to monitor and find billing errors or overpayments. Ardian will pay $195 million to acquire the company, according to Private Equity News. Revenue at PRGX during the nine-month period that ended Sept. 30 fell to $117.4 million from $123.1 million for the comparable stretch the year earlier.

In a press release issued by PRGX, the company said it aims to expedite the rollout of its PRGX Verigon Solution Suite, continue investing in improved audit and analytics processes and increasingly focus on mid- to long-term business strategy with the acquisition. These investments will aim to accelerate delivery of PRGX’s mission while helping clients get more value out of their source-to-pay data.

“The Ardian transaction delivers significant value for PRGX’s shareholders and marks the beginning of the next chapter of our journey with our clients,” PRGX President and CEO, Ron Stewart, said in the press release. "We look forward to partnering with the Ardian team to accelerate the launch and delivery of our vision of source-to-pay as fully technology-enabled, accelerating speed to value for clients globally.”

Spend Matters has covered PRGX for years as the audit recovery specialist has evolved. (See PRO analysis of PRGX and Lavante, a supplier management provider it acquired). And PRGX was recently mentioned in our coverage about venture-stage investing in procurement technology firms. Spend Matters’ Founder Jason Busch wrote about an investment sector of startup providers that focuses on pushing savings to clients. PRGX falls into that area of push savings as a mature provider, not a startup. But now it certainly is part of today's investments going on with the M&A in procurement technology firms.

See more investment analysis in Busch's Spend Matters Nexus columns.

US government explores giving half doses of COVID-19 vaccine for faster rollout

The leader of the US government’s COVID-19 vaccine program said health officials are exploring the idea of giving one major group of Americans half volume doses of the Moderna vaccine to help accelerate the rollout, according to CNBC.

“We know that for the Moderna vaccine giving half the dose for people between the ages of 18 to 55 — two doses, half the dose, which means exactly achieving the objective of immunizing double the number of people with the doses we have — we know it induces identical immune response to the 100-microgram dose,” said Moncef Slaoui, the leader of the federal Operation Warp Speed program.

“And therefore, we are in discussions with Moderna and with the FDA — of course, ultimately it will be an FDA decision — to accelerate injecting half the volume,” he added.

Health officials aimed to inject 20 million Americans with a vaccine by the end of the year. About 4.2 million had received shots as of Jan. 2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. CNBC reported that some leaders, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, question if the half dosage technique is the best method.

UK, EU reached a deal on Brexit

With a looming deadline before them, the United Kingdom and European Union agreed to a post-Brexit trade deal on Thursday, the end of a four-year saga, according to NBC News. Bloomberg reported Monday that the three biggest venues in London that handle European shares saw almost all its business shift into the EU on this first trading day since Brexit.

The trade deal focuses mostly on quotas and tariffs but will likely not avoid regulatory checks on goods at the border, NBC News said. Experts warned this could cause disruption at ports, meaning price rises or shortages. The deal was seen as a compromise and good outcome for both sides, the article reported. It came days before the Dec. 31 deadline — after which the UK would have left EU rules without any agreement.

"I'm very pleased to tell you this afternoon that we have completed our biggest trade deal yet," England’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a news conference, championing the agreement.

Many economists believe that Brexit will damage the UK economically. COVID-19 triggered the worst British recession in 300 years, and Brexit is forecast to be even worse.

As London’s Big Ben clock tower struck 11 p.m. last Thursday — midnight in EU headquarters’ home Brussels — the final result of the Brexit process came to pass, NBC News reported.

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