While this weekend’s deal between Astrazeneca and Alexion shows that the pandemic has not stopped M&A, the size and number of deals struck this year is significantly down on 2019. Arguably this is an unfair comparison following 2019’s M&A bonanza, and at least biopharma companies have managed a couple of big-ticket acquisitions this year. The $39bn Astra is paying has saved 2020 from being the worst year for M&A since 2017, and is the only deal this year big enough to be considered a megamerger. Otherwise, there appears to be a marked preference for single-digit billion dollar deals. Partly this trend might be due to the resilience the biopharma sector has shown over the past year; asset prices have continued to grow, leaving Nasdaq on track to finish 2020 at historic highs. The amount of funding in the sector has also given smaller companies a better position to resist takeouts. With only weeks left in December, unless a raft of megadeals materialises 2020 will best be remembered as a year where deals continued to be struck despite the circumstances, albeit for some of the biggest premiums in recent history.
|Biggest takeout deals of 2020|
|Acquirer||Target||Date||Deal status||Value ($bn)|
|Bristol-Myers Squibb||Myokardia||5 Oct||Closed||13.1|
|Johnson & Johnson||Momenta||19 Aug||Closed||6.5|
|Gilead||Forty Seven||2 Mar||Closed||4.9|
|Merck & Co||Velosbio||5 Nov||Open||2.6|
|Novo Nordisk||Corvidia||11 Jun||Closed||2.1|