DealZone

IMS deal shows life, if not strength, in leveraged buyouts

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If a deal can’t get done with the backing of Canada’s pension fund and capitalism’s mightiest bank, then the leveraged buyout market would truly be dead.

So it is with limited fanfare that DealZone welcomes the buyout of IMS Health by Canada’s public pension plan and Goldman Sachs as a sign of the market’s return to health. Green shoots in the LBO patch are hardly growing all jack-and-the-beanstalk, but putting together $4 billion for the prescription drug sales data provider is not just ice on the moon either.

Excluding debt, the $22-a-share cash deal is the biggest leveraged buyout since Bristol-Myers Squibb sold its ConvaTec unit to Avista Capital and Nordic Capital just over a year ago for $4.1 billion, according to data from Thomson Reuters.

Financing markets and general optimism have improved from the nadir of the crisis, and debt, if you can find it, is hardly expensive, with core rates at zero. But $4 billion pales in comparison with strategic deals in the health space this year, such as Wyeth’s $68 billion union with Pfizer.

It is safe to say, though, that had the IMS deal foundered, it would have been a far worse signal for LBOs than its success means for the relative health of the business.

Pet business

DogAttention cats and dogs: this deal affects you. 

Germany’s Boehringer Ingelheim is now the front-runner to buy certain animal health assets of Fort Dodge, which makes drugs like ProMeris, ProHeart 6 and the Duramune vaccine line, sources told Reuters

The assets are being sold by Wyeth to gain approval for its $68 billion merger with Pfizer. 

Wyeth is not selling its entire Fort Dodge business, just certain assets within the unit that are valued at roughly $400 million to $500 million, the sources said.  

Another deal in healthcare: what’s the magic pill?

pillsAs dealmakers everywhere struggle to get deals done, the healthcare industry seals yet another one.

Express Scripts has agreed to buy health insurer WellPoint’s prescription business for $4.68 billion in a significant expansion for the U.S. pharmacy beenfit manager. The deal will be a concoction of cash and up to $1.4 billion in common stock, and will generate more than $1 billion of incremental EBITDA.

This comes on the heels of Pfizer’s $68 billion acquisition of Wyeth, Merck’s $41.1 billion takeover of Schering Plough and Roche Holding’s $46.8 billion buyout of Genentech. Granted, this isn’t a pharma deal, but it still falls under the umbrella of the healthcare sector.

Good medicine for Morgan Stanley

USA/Morgan Stanley‘s jump from 10th to first in our M&A league table should put them on cloud nine. The first quarter was busy with drug deals, and Morgan Stanley was in on the biggies: advising Wyeth on its $64.5 billion acquisition by Pfizer, and Schering Plough on its $46 billion takeover by Merck. And with the ink still to arrive on the paper of both deals, more good stuff could be on the horizon. The trick for Morgan Stanley, and anyone wanting to take down the king of the hill, is to spot and exploit the trend.******If drug deals remain du jour — and many expect the sector to stay hot, despite all the swallowing going on — the trend will certainly be toward Biotech. The markets for biologics and pipeline-filling cancer treatments have been strong in the face of expected government action to lower doctor and drug bills.******The heightened merger activity in Big Pharma has switched the tables a bit in the sector. After Roche’s nearly $47 billion acquisition of Genentech, analysts became increasingly convinced that the remaining big biotechs like Celgene, Gilead, Genzyme, Biogen Idec and Amgen could emerge as buyers, given that traditional Big Pharma is either digesting deals or just not so big anymore.******Christopher Kaufman; DealZone Editor******Deals of the Day:******* Drug maker Lupin Ltd said it has acquired a 51 percent stake in Multicare Pharmaceuticals Philippines Inc, marking the Indian firm’s foray into the $2.5 billion Philippines pharmaceuticals market.******* Britain-based dairy products maker Dairy Crest said it had sold its 49 percent stake in Yoplait Dairy Crest (YDC) to the Yoplait Group for 63.5 million pounds ($92.66 million) and that it would use the cash to reduce debts.******* Austrian steelmaker Voestalpine said its North American unit, VAE Nortrak had acquired U.S-based Leading Enterprises Inc, a supplier of speciality components for railway tracks, as part of a plan by the company to expand its railway division.******(PHOTO: A sign is pictured on Wall St. near the New York Stock Exchange in New York November 25, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson )

Drugs cure Morgan Stanley’s league table woes

ZetiaMorgan Stanley is bouncing back up in the global league tables for mergers advisory work after taking a hit to its rankings last year.

The investment bank has taken the No. 1 spot based on deal volume globally so far this year, according to latest Thomson Reuters data.

Morgan Stanley was one of the advisors, besides JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, in the latest blockbuster pharma deal – the $41 billion offer for Schering-Plough by Merck. That came on top of its role as the advisor — along with Evercore — to Wyeth in the drug company’s $68 billion takeover by rival Pfizer.

Pushing Drugs

USAThe drums of consolidation in Big Pharma were beating loudly after Pfizer bid for Wyeth in January. And as Merck and Schering-Plough were already teamed up on key drugs, the deal they announced this morning was hardly a shock. Though analysts said the pact has lots of logic to sell it — the companies are practically neighbors in New Jersey — the market is playing defense, so any excitement about Monday merger mania was quickly quashed as the economic Thorazine kicked in.

Long the preferred defensive play in a downturn, Big Pharma has been suffering along with the rest of the market as investors unwind the bull-market era and dump stocks for treasuries in the face of the biggest surge of new government debt issuance in living memory. Plus, consider that just last week the Obama administration was marshaling the president’s executive might to make good on a campaign pledge to tackle soaring health-care costs. Considering the environment, the strength of logic might not be enough to cast the Merck/Schering-Plough deal as anything other than a defensive necessity.

Shareholders are acting defensively as well. Merck shares were retreating in premarket trade, indicating a lack of confidence that the synergies of the merger will overcome what ails Wall Street.
Deals of the Day:

Evercore gets league table boost; Lazard left in the cold

Pfizer Inc’s $68 billion deal to buy Wyeth gave boutique investment banking firm Evercore Partners a huge jump in the rankings of merger advisers, while Lazard Ltd got left on the sidelines.

One mega-deal was enough to catapult Evercore, which advised Wyeth along with Morgan Stanley, into the list of Top 10 advisers. Evercore now stands at No. 7 for the global and U.S. rankings, up from No. 24 and No. 16 in 2008, according to data from Thomson Reuters.

Morgan Stanley stands at No. 2 globally with 15 deals, and No. 3 in the United States with 10 deals, according to Thomson Reuters.

A trigger for more drug deals?

Jeff KindlerPfizer has taken the plunge, and others may follow.

The world’s largest drug maker is buying rival Wyeth for $68 billion in cash and stock to become even larger.  

Pfizer’s Jeff Kindler is content with swallowing Wyeth for now. He told CNBC the company has no plans to do any huge transactions in the near future.

But the merger could trigger a wave of consolidation in the cash-rich sector as big pharma looks to diversify revenues in the face of competition from generic-drug rivals, analysts say.

Pfizer: Dealing with Lipitor side-effects

Pfizer’s at it again. The world’s largest drugmaker by revenue has set its sights on rival Wyeth and the two are talking about a deal that could be valued at more than $60 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Pfizer was built in the last 10 years on two of the biggest deals in the sector — the purchase of rivals Warner Lambert and Pharmacia.

And another big deal would not come as a surprise. Some analysts and investors have made pleas to the company to make another acquisition to obtain products to prepare for an expected loss in earnings in 2011, when the patent on its flagship cholesterol drug Lipitor expires.

Elan’s strategic alternatives

HEALTH-SUMMIT/The best seat in the house for a healthcare dealmaker has to be across the table from Elan CEO Kelly Martin. With his stock price in a coma and his two most promising drugs locked up in joint ventures, it’s hard to see what kind of bargaining power the long-time Wall Street veteran can muster to sell the Irish drug maker at a price shareholders will be happy with. Investors seem to think a deal is possible, or at least that the prospect for a deal is better than the company turning the corner on its own. They bid up the stock 16 percent on news that Elan had hired Citigroup to strategically review the company. The stock has lost nearly 70 percent since mid-July. Though the company says a sale is not its preferred strategy, this is what M&A folk tend to mean when they say strategic review.

Generally, investors have had little reason to feel confident about Elan. It is not currently making any money, a common condition for biotechs, and has $1.7 billion in debt coming due within the next five years. Though there is M&A activity in the sector, Elan is looking particularly anemic. Last month, it said it would cut 114 jobs and close its Tokyo and New York offices. With a market cap around 3.2 billion euros ($4.3 billion) it’s hardly too big for a Pfizer, Merck or Wyeth to swallow. There were rumors that Pfizer was sniffing around last week, but Elan has distanced itself from the talk.

Big pharma’s strategy of using marketing joint ventures to allow them to win big returns on successful drugs without taking on the bigger risks associated with Biotech failures has proven to be more valuable than buying biotechs outright. And many of the biotech sector’s big prospects are spoken for by way of joint venture. With the economic crisis having forced private equity to the sidelines, M&A is now a strategic buyers’ market. Elan is probably counting on a current flash of merger activity to cloud any negatives for potential buyers.