M&A deal activity dims in 2011 as big pharma backs off

So far 2012 has provided plenty of action on the M&A front, from Roche’s hostile $5.7bn bid for Illumina to Amgen’s $1.1bn takeover of Micromet. These are encouraging signs of life compared to 2011, when global mergers and acquisitions between pharma and biotech companies slowed dramatically on the previous four years.

Data from EvaluatePharma show that only 136 M&A deals were struck in 2011, down from 171 and 170 seen in the previous years. Most markedly, big pharma was almost moribund in 2011, the analysis shows, spending only $23.4bn in 13 deals. Outside of Johnson & Johnson’s $21.3bn acquisition of Synthes, a medtech deal, the biggest purchase of a drug developer by big pharma last year was Bristol-Myers Squibb’s $475m takeover of Amira (see tables).

Bereft of billions

The table below shows deal activity, in terms of acquisitions of whole companies, business units or stake buying, among the industry’s biggest drug makers. Other than Johnson & Johnson’s expansion of its orthopaedics business with the Synthes buy, last year was notably bereft of billion-dollar deals by this group.

Deals are sorted by announcement date, to reflect a company’s appetite and market conditions of the time, rather than completion date, which can be some time afterwards – so Sanofi’s move on Genzyme, which took many months to consummate, falls in the 2010 roll call. That year Novartis also bought out the remaining stake in Alcon, the other big deal of 2010.

After spending $74.4bn in 36 deals in 2010, the drop to $23.4bn in 13 deals represents a substantial decline for the big pharma group last year. After the years' biggest takeovers - Synthes last year and Alcon and Genzyme the year before - activity looks even more anaemic.

Big Pharma M&A analysis
2011 2010
Pharma deals Total deals Pharma deals Total deals Five Year Total (2007-2011)
Company Value ($bn) Count Value ($m) Count Value ($bn) Count Value ($bn) Count Value ($bn) Count
Roche 0.2 1 0.6 3 0.4 1 0.7 3 53.1 17
Bristol-Myers Squibb 0.5 1 0.5 1 0.7 1 0.7 1 4.2 5
Novartis - - 0.5 1 38.0 4 38.0 4 52.3 13
Merck & Co 0.4 1 0.4 1 0.5 2 0.5 2 42.5 7
Pfizer 0.05 2 0.05 2 3.8 3 3.8 4 72.9 15
GlaxoSmithKline 0.04 1 0.04 1 0.9 8 0.9 8 8.1 22
Sanofi - - - - 20.8 6 21.4 7 32.3 19
Johnson & Johnson - 1 21.3 2 2.2 2 2.7 3 30.1 17
AstraZeneca - 1 - 1 - - - - 16.3 3
Eli Lilly - - - 1 1.2 2 1.2 2 8.1 6
Schering-Plough - - - - - - - - 15.6 1
Abbott Laboratories - - - - 4.5 2 4.5 2 15.0 9
Total 1.2 8 23.4 13 73.0 31 74.4 36 350.5 134
Excluding megamergers 1.2 8 2.1 12 14.9 29 16.3 34 115 128

In terms of volume Roche struck the most M&A transactions in 2011, buying hepatitis C specialist Anadys and two medtech firms – mtm laboratories and PVT Probenverteiltechn. But the company was hardly prolific and overall it seems big pharma’s attention was elsewhere last year.

For many, the focus has shifted towards licensing deals – an analysis of trends in these deals last year will follow in the next couple of weeks. However with several companies facing precipitous patent cliffs much attention has turned to protecting earnings. Investors will invariably prefer to hear about a big cost saving programme and share buyback programme than committing cash to what can often be risky acquisitions.

AstraZeneca is a prime example here. Since its extremely pricey acquisition of MedImmune for $15.6bn in 2007, the company has only bought Novexel, for $505m, in 2009 and last year acquired Chinese injectables specialist Guangdong BeiKang for an undisclosed amount. Further job cuts and new share buyback programme are expected to accompany its annual results on Thursday.

Industry trends

The table below shows M&A activity between pharma and biotech companies of all sizes - it excludes deals struck in medical technology or animal health sectors.

This reveals that the number of deals struck by companies of all sizes dropped dramatically last year. The amount of money spent shows less of a decline when looking at underlying activity outside of the mega mergers, and last year was almost in line with averages over the last decade.

Still, $52bn was spent buying drug makers last year, even if big pharma chose to sit on the sidelines. The identity of the companies that were willing to commit to new partners will be revealed tomorrow.

Pharma/Biotech acquisitions
Deal Announcement Date Deal Value ($bn) Deal Count
2011 52.3 136
2010 108.1 171
2010 (excluding Novartis-Alcon) 70.1 169
2009 152.4 170
2009 (excluding mega-mergers) 43.3 168
2008 108.0 179
2008 (excluding mega-mergers) 61.0 177
2007 69.8 155
2006 99.3 138
2005 64.6 133
2004 97.8 91
2004 (excluding mega-mergers) 63.0 90
2003 38.5 85
2002 65.8 87
2002 (excluding mega-mergers) 5.7 86
2001 46.8 81
2000 308.5 85
2000 (excluding mega-mergers) 29.4 83
Report Average (excluding mega mergers) 58.5 136

All data sourced to EvaluatePharma

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