Dassault Systemes SE, a maker of industrial design software, agreed to buy Medidata Solutions Inc. for $5.7 billion to gain a foothold in the fast-growing market for clinical trial technology.
The deal pushes the French company further beyond its design roots into data processing and business analysis. Medidata’s software analyzes pharmaceutical and biotech trials for some of the world’s biggest drugmakers including Sanofi SA, Pfizer Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc.
“This is by far the largest acquisition we’ve ever made,” Pascal Daloz, chief financial officer of Dassault Systemes, said on a conference call. He said health is becoming a crucial market for the company, whose customers are mostly in aerospace, defense and consumer goods.
The all-cash deal values New York-based Medidata at $92.25 a share, 17% above its closing price on April 18, the last trading day before Bloomberg reported Dassault Systemes’ interest in the company. Medidata stock fell 4.4% to $90.60 in premarket trading.
Shares in Dassault Systemes, which has a market value of 36 billion euros ($41 billion) and annual sales of 3.5 billion euros last year, fell as much as 3% before recouping some of the decline to trade down 1% at 11:31 a.m. in Paris.
Medidata offers clients wearable sensors that help track patient health and biomarker analysis to select which patients may best respond to certain drugs. It estimates that 13 of the top 15 medicines sold last year relied on its technology, as the healthcare industry shifts towards personalized medicine and the targeting of individual patient profiles.
President Donald Trump’s protectionist trade agenda hasn’t reduced the appetite of European companies for U.S. takeovers. In fact their appeal has been growing, potentially turning the tables after years in which Europe was mostly a target for U.S. acquirers.
French advertising group Publicis Groupe SA announced its biggest ever takeover in April, a $4.4 billion deal for U.S.-based Alliance Data Systems Corp.’s digital marketing unit Epsilon.
The Medidata deal is expected to close in the final quarter of 2019 and start boosting earnings as early as 2020, the companies said in a statement. Dassault Systemes will finance it with a 1 billion-euro loan, a 3 billion-euro bridge-to-loan facility and available cash. It’s the first time the French company has resorted to external funding, Daloz said.
More must-read stories from Fortune:
–Phishing hackers can now bypass two-factor authentication
—Apple’s sign-in feature is a “shot across the bow” at tech giant rivals
–Uber’s CEO has absorbed the COO role for more control
–Google is changing its search results. Here’s what to expect
–Listen to our new audio briefing, Fortune 500 Daily
Catch up with Data Sheet, Fortune‘s daily digest on the business of tech.