PwC report sees pharma-biotech deals 'to be extremely active in 2020'

A report out this week by PwC thinks biotech could be in for a good year for deals as it sees the momentum from 2019 growing, although don’t expect many mega-deals.

In the final year of the decade, a new report out called "Global Pharma & Life Sciences deals insights Year-end 2019" from accounting firm PwC noted that biotech experienced a “significant increase” in both volume and value in deals, mainly boosted by that recently tied up mega-deal between Celgene and Bristol-Myers Squibb as well as the merger of AbbVie and Allergan.

Looking at the data and predicting the future is always tricky and comes with the old caveats, but the firm sees activity involving targets in the middling $2 billion to $10 billion range “has never been stronger […] We expect biotech to be extremely active in 2020,” it found.

“As expected, pent-up demand for deal making led to aggressive action on strategic agendas in 2019,” the report added. “With many CEO changes leading up to 2019, we now see many businesses with clear agendas to create [pharma and life science] companies of tomorrow.”

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It sees small to middling sized biotechs as being in the cross-hairs, predominately, of bigger pharma companies, as “additional innovation and data becomes available, and buyers become more comfortable in executing deals for attractive biotech targets with price points ranging from $2B - $10B.”

At the recent J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, there was a distinct dearth of deal announcements, with almost every major pharma C-suite claiming their M&A strategy was bolt-on focused and many still lamenting the overvalued nature of the sector when it comes to buyout prices. Many of the more alluring M&A targets appear to be those focusing on next-gen cancer and gene editing treatments.

In a nod to this, PwC added that: “Given the fragmented nature of the oncology and gene and cell therapy markets, we will likely see more volume of the smaller sized deals.”