GTCR backs Jefferson Gregory of King Pharmaceuticals

The Chicago-based private equity house is putting up to $200 million behind Gregory’s vision of a new pharmaceutical company serving a niche market.

GTCR Golder Rauner announced today it is backing the formation of Graceway Pharmaceuticals, a new specialty pharmaceuticals company that will be based in Bristol, Tennessee.

Jefferson Gregory, the new CEO of Graceway Pharmaceuticals

GTCR is hoping that its usual strategy of banking on big-name executives will lead to a big payoff in this growing industry. They have partnered with former King Pharmaceuticals chief executive Jefferson Gregory.

“A big part of what we do in attractive industries like pharmaceuticals is, we make a point out of finding some of the most successful executives in that industry,” said GTCR vice president Constantine Mihas. “We’ve known Jeff from the time that he started King Pharmaceuticals, he’s very knowledgeable about the industry.”

Prior to serving as CEO, Gregory served as president and COO of King since the company’s inception in 1993. Since that time King has grown from a small contract manufacturing operation with 100 employees to a Fortune 500 branded company employing 3,000 people.

Graceway will be the fifth addition to GTCR’s collection of pharmaceutical platforms, which also include Ovation Pharmaceuticals, Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals, GeneraMedix Pharmaceuticals and Chester Valley Pharmaceuticals.

Graceway will serve a niche market, focusing on acquiring, in-licensing and developing branded prescription specialty pharmaceutical products. Mihas said Graceway may focus on gastrointestinal and respiratory drugs.

“Pharmaceuticals is a growing industry and as pharmaceutical companies have increasingly gotten larger, it leaves a lot of opportunity for niche specialty players to really develop an attractive business,” Mihas said.

Graceway will be based in Bristol, Tennessee, where Gregory currently lives. The state is home to many pharmaceutical companies. Mihas said Graceway is already on the hunt for acquisition opportunities.