This year has seen fewer mergers and acquisitions in the medtech space so far than the equivalent period in 2011, and the total value of the deals has also fallen. In the first three quarters of 2012 $47bn was spent on acquiring medtech companies, compared with $65bn a year earlier. The fall of 27% is particularly concerning as nearly half of the 2012 total spend was from a single $20bn deal.
Analysis of data from EvaluateMedTech shows that the first three quarters of 2012 saw 38 M&A deals within medtech, compared with 60 in the same period in 2011. This 37% drop is partly due to the macroeconomic climate, and no doubt some of the blame can also be apportioned to the forthcoming US medtech sales tax, which is forcing companies into cost-cutting and limiting their takeover opportunities (see tables).
Largest pure medtech deal for seven years
By far the largest medtech acquisition of 2012 was that of the trauma specialist Synthes by Johnson & Johnson. The $19.7bn deal was worth more than five times as much as the next largest transaction, Hologic’s buyout of Gen-Probe for $3.7bn. It is a huge outlier, unlike anything in the first three quarters of 2011, where the top deal was worth less than twice the price of the second.
The deal was, in its way, also a response to economic pressures. J&J’s DePuy subsidiary already had a significant presence in the orthopaedic market, but much less in trauma, with a market share of around 6% before the acquisition, compared with 58% for Synthes. Because trauma care is a necessity, it is under less pricing pressure than procedures such as joint replacement (J&J needs to practice dealmaking arts in Synthes talks, April 18, 2011).
The Synthes deal was the largest acquisition of a pure-play medtech company since Boston Scientific’s 2005 acquisition of Guidant for $27bn. Boston has had significant difficulties digesting pacemaker developer Guidant and may only now be getting back on track (EP Vantage Interview – Boston Scientific remakes itself to face the future, October 22, 2012). J&J, being the biggest medtech company in addition to its pharmaceutical operations, ought to be able to absorb Synthes more easily.
The most expensive transaction to date in 2012 has had a knock-on effect in that it necessitated the 17th most expensive: Biomet bought the trauma segment of DePuy, which included fixation products used in the treatment of bone fractures, for $280m in June, in order to allay EU antitrust concerns resulting from the Synthes buy.
The most acquisitive firm in terms of deals is Dublin-based Covidien, which purchased no fewer than seven companies: BÂRRX Medical, Oridion, superDimension, Maya Medical, Newport Medical Instruments, CNS Therapeutics and MindFrame, for a total of $1.4bn.
BÂRRX is a developer of radiofrequency ablation catheters used to remove precancerous tissue from the gastrointestinal tract to treat conditions including Barrett's oesophagus. Maya Medical’s lead technology, the OneShot renal denervation system, also employs radiofrequency energy, but uses it to ablate nerves to control blood pressure.
Three further companies are active in the pulmonary area. Oridion develops devices that detect the proportion of carbon dioxide in a patient’s breath as a monitoring tool for use during anaesthesia and intensive care. The Israeli company superDimension has a product called the i·Logic system, which can extend the reach of conventional bronchoscopes to provide minimally invasive access to lesions deep in the lungs, to improve evaluation of lesions and enable safer tissue biopsies. Newport Medical Instruments develops ventilators. These companies are logical purchases given Covidien’s portfolio of pulse oximeters and other monitoring products.
MindFrame manufactures devices to aid rapid perfusion and clot removal to treat patients with ischaemic stroke. Lastly, CNS Therapeutics is a pharma company, bought by Covidien’s drugs subsidiary Mallinckrodt.
The most acquisitive company in the first three quarters of 2011 was Medtronic, which bought renal denervation specialist Ardian, surgery companies Salient Surgical Technologies and PEAK Surgical and Jolife, a Swedish firm that had developed a tool that administers non-stop chest compressions, spending a total of $1.5bn.
The medtech sector is growing faster than pharma. Though there have been fewer acquisitions so far in 2012 than in 2011, this trend is a recent one – 2011 saw more buyouts than 2009 – and there is no reason why it might not be reversed in 2013.
Medtech mergers & acquisitions
Deal announcement date
Total deal value ($m)
|1st quarter 2011
|2nd quarter 2011
|3rd quarter 2011
|1st quarter 2012
|2nd quarter 2012
|3rd quarter 2012
To contact the writer of this story email Elizabeth Cairns in London at