Leadership changes, divestments, and portfolio-building partnerships—through acquisition or collaboration—were common threads among medtech’s largest players.
2019’s passing marks two years without the type of annual blockbuster deal the medical device industry had become accustomed to. That’s not to say M&A activity was quiet—a number of the world’s largest medtech makers spent billions last year to boost their portfolios. Last year’s largest deal saw 3M buy advanced wound care and specialty surgical firm Acelity for $6.7 billion. Boston Scientific closed the book on its $4.2 billion BTG deal, gaining products used in minimally invasive procedures targeting cancer and vascular diseases. Johnson & Johnson continued its move toward surgical robotics with its $3.4 billion purchase of Auris Health.
Significant shedding took place in the Top 30 as well. GE sold its BioPharma unit to Danaher for $21 billion. Danaher extracted its Dental business, which became independent, publicly-traded Envista. Alcon formally completed its spinoff from Novartis last April. And, 3M sold its drug delivery business—excluding the transdermal portfolio—to an Altaris Capital Partners affiliate for $650 million.
Last year also saw the departure of a remarkable number of chief executives. Omar Ishrak announced his retirement after nine years at Medtronic’s helm. Abbott leader Miles White retired after a 21-year tenure—the second longest for a non-founder in today’s S&P 100. After nearly 40 years serving BD, Vincent Forlenza stepped down as CEO. Following a bout of infighting over the leader of newly formed EssilorLuxottica, Francesco Millieri became CEO of Luxottica Group and Paul du Saillant began leading Essilor International. (The search for EssilorLuxottica’s chief executive is still underway at the time of writing.) B. Braun chief execs Prof. Dr. Heinz-Walter Große (B. Braun Melsungen AG) and Caroll H. Neubauer (B. Braun Medical Inc.) also retired from the company. Hiroyuki Sasa stepped down as Olympus’ CEO, and Smith+Nephew leader Namal Nawana departed the firm after a purported dispute over his pay.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic did not begin to take hold until early this year, its effects on medtech’s largest manufacturers cannot be ignored. Thus, information is embedded in some reports about 2020 financial performance and how medtech’s largest firms have aided the fight against the virus.
Image Credit: MPO