After a run of fairly earthbound price tags in 2012, the titans of med tech have loosened their billfolds this year, stringing together multibillion-dollar deals across devices and diagnostics.
Analysts blamed 2012's tepid M&A climate on austerity measures overseas, pricing pressures at home and mounting uncertainty over the then-pending medical device tax. And while none of those issues has been entirely resolved, we've seen more billion-dollar-plus buyouts in the last 6 months than all of 2012, including Life Technologies' ($LIFE) long-rumored and deep-pocketed deal and Baxter's ($BAX) big check for a shot at dominating the dialysis world.
But 2013's blistering buyout rate isn't all due to market-shifting M&A on the largest scale. Tuck-ins and bolt-ons abound as devicemakers of all sizes look to add much-needed innovation and balance out maturing product lines. And, stung by reimbursement cuts and dwindling demand, many in med tech have looked to shed once-vaunted business units, scaling back their operations in exchange for a few million of a competitor's dollars. And then there are emerging markets, ever-promising for companies in the lurch who believe Asian acquisitions can dull the blow of slow-footed European sales and plodding stateside PMAs.
That's to say nothing of the suddenly acquirable mid-cap players bloodied by mounting costs, or the swirl of M&A rumors risen since January. Read on for a look at the trends driving 2013's buying sprees and a glimpse at what's perhaps to come as the industry gets brave in the checkout line.
-- Damian Garde (Twitter | email)