Our special "March M&A Madness!" cover highlights a busymonth of mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical and biotechnologyindustries. Our newsroom was abuzz with activity as we reported deals thatraised eyebrows—not just because they carried price tags from $14 million tomore than $7 billion—but also because some of the pairings, such as Merck KgaAand Millipore, came seemingly out of left field.
Even as we went to press, another large-figure deal hit thenewswires. On March 18, generic pharmaceutical specialist Teva PharmaceuticalIndustries Ltd. announced a definitive agreement to acquire Ratiopharm,Europe's largest generic drugmaker, for nearly $5 billion. The deal is expectedto give Jerusalem-based Teva a top spot in the $8.6 million German market forgeneric drugs—the world's second-largest after the United States, according tomarket research firm IMS Health Inc.
But Teva wasn't the only company eyeing that potential, asPfizer Inc. and Actavis each made their own bid to acquire Ratiopharm.According to some analysts, their obvious attraction to this successful genericdrug market segment may lead them to the doorsteps of other Europeandrugmakers, such as Stada Arzneimittel AG of Germany.
Analysts are engaging in much speculation about the suddenvoracious appetites of Big Pharma, and the active M&A environment hascaused stock spikes in some of the industry's most sought-after companies.According to the Wall Street Journal,news of the deals also pushed up shares of other mid-sized biotech companiesthat some market watchers have viewed as possible takeover targets, includingBiogen Idec, Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Human Genome Sciences, Illumina Inc., OnyxPharmaceuticals and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.
But the active M&A environment isn't really an anomaly,according to DealSearchOnline.com, which recently reported that the last decadewas marked by pharma dealmaking. According to the business intelligence firm,during the first 10 years of this century, a total of 1,345 mergers andacquisitions of pharmaceutical assets and companies were announced, withdisclosed prices totaling more than $694 billion. The Wall Street Journal alsorecently noted that since the beginning of 2010, the industry is leading globalM&A activity, but is only ranked fifth in the U.S., with $17.4 billion indeals. Still, the newspaper has speculated that the recent passage ofhealthcare reform legislation may prompt further consolidation.
In the meantime, we'd like to know what you, the reader,thinks of all of this activity. Send your thoughts and comments email@example.com. We may publish your observations in our nextissue.