Breakingviews

Bayer’s Monsanto bid yields poor financial harvest

May 27, 2016

The German chemicals group’s rejected $62 bln offer for the seed maker already appeared to violate one of its key principles: stick to projects whose returns beat the cost of capital. Upping the price to win over Monsanto would take heroic sales-growth assumptions to stack up.

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.

Valeant CEO back with less power and no glory

February 29, 2016

Mike Pearson has returned from illness, stripped of his chairmanship. The $25 bln drugmaker also withdrew guidance and will further delay reporting 2015 results. Marginally better-looking governance isn’t enough to give investors like Bill Ackman hope of reversing losses.

Overdue Mylan deal is not the one investors wanted

February 11, 2016

Three months after rival Perrigo refused its $26 bln offer, the drugmaker has agreed to buy Sweden’s Meda AB. Though the $7.2 bln transaction makes strategic sense, the 92 pct premium is hard to justify. Mylan might have been better served by trying to sell, rather than buy.

Glaxo self-help looks better than surgeon’s knife

February 3, 2016

The UK pharma group has come under pressure to split itself up after weak performance. Latest results show Glaxo is coming to terms with its challenges. A breakup wouldn’t create much value, absent a premium bid. That gives Chief Executive Andrew Witty breathing space.

Alere board’s diligence brings 51 pct premium

February 1, 2016

A $5.8 bln sale to $56 bln healthcare group Abbott caps a series of good decisions. Appointing a separate chairman, jettisoning Alere’s deal-hungry founder, rejecting his low-ball bid and focusing the business all helped. It shows what engaged investors and directors can achieve.

Shire’s merger with Baxalta looks a little peaky

January 11, 2016

The drugmaker’s Chief Executive Flemming Ornskov has clinched his deal to buy haematology specialist Baxalta for $35 billion. The deal brings Shire scale in rare diseases, but offers few cost synergies, plenty of risk and relies on revenue growth that may be optimistic.

Healthcare M&A will wear down in 2016

January 4, 2016

Obamacare and tax avoidance spurred over $550 bln of U.S. deals in 2015. That’s three times more than the previous record. With the obvious combinations already struck, acquisitive companies hurting and trustbusters sharpening their pencils, a repeat will be challenging.