Breakingviews

Abbott eases its M&A risk with $4.3 bln asset sale

September 19, 2016

With two acquisitions worth over $30 bln pending – and the purchase of Alere, in particular, not going smoothly – the $62 bln health firm is vulnerable. Selling its eye-surgery unit to J&J gives Abbott needed financial breathing room and perhaps extra leverage with Alere.

Bristol-Myers suffers $21 bln self-inflicted wound

August 5, 2016

That's how much value investors wiped off the pharma firm after its trial to broaden the use of a cancer drug failed. It was an unnecessarily risky move for Bristol, whose immunotherapy has been outselling Merck's. The stumble will allow its more cautious rival to clean up.

Fintech: bigger and dicier for insurers than banks

July 13, 2016

Financial technology is highly likely to disrupt the insurance industry, executives told PwC. Preventive cover that use sensors to anticipate damage could benefit society. But many shifts may require intrusive Big Brother-like methods - or questionable changes to risk management.

J&J’s corpulence defense weighs heavy

June 2, 2016

The bulging healthcare conglomerate is swallowing hair-care firm Vogue for $3.3 bln in defiance of calls to break up. J&J’s $312 bln market value makes it a hard target for activists. Yet its obesity has created ailments from poor M&A digestion to mediocre shareholder returns.

From Allergan to Zoetis: new drug M&A perspectives

May 10, 2016

The acquisitive maker of Botox is devoting capital to buybacks and paying down debt. Meanwhile, Bill Ackman is selling a big stake in the animal-health company he has been pushing as a takeover target. With luck, the two moves together signal a more subdued approach to deals.

Pfizer mulls actually having an M&A strategy

May 5, 2016

The $205 bln drug giant’s last two huge acquisition attempts failed. Pfizer could yet try another merger to cut its tax rate, it could enter a potentially heated auction for $10 bln biotech Medivation, or it could split up. Dealmaking success depends on having clearer goals.

Stupid names can’t hurt good companies

May 5, 2016

Healthineers, Siemens’ new brand for its healthcare unit, is reminiscent of a hero in a 1950s science fiction comic. Users of its brain-scanners are unlikely to care. For investors the goofy name is, at the margin, a good thing: it shows a spin-off may have become more likely.

Medical firms’ $18 bln merger lacks clear logic

May 3, 2016

Healthcare data miner IMS is uniting with Quintiles, a manager of drug trials. Each will own about half the combined company, and other than some cost savings, the reasons for combining are a bit nebulous. The presence of buyout firm TPG on both sides may offer some clues.

Abbott’s $25 bln buy inspires little investor hope

April 28, 2016

It’s buying medical-device maker St. Jude at a $6.5 bln premium. Cost cuts cover less than half that, and earnings accretion doesn’t make it a good deal. Abbott’s value tumbled over $5 bln. Shareholders may recall that the target’s namesake is the patron saint of lost causes.

Valeant plays chicken with death spiral

March 15, 2016

The pharma company’s failure to file audited results has started a countdown to default that vaporized 40 pct of its market value in early trading. Executives are mulling selling assets. But with so many questions about its financials unanswered, Valeant’s outlook is bleak.