J&J Trades Up in Orthopedics
J&J's acquisition may or may not be the big deal that finally starts to consolidate the orthopedics implant industry. But it gives J&J a powerful franchise in orthopedics at a time when the company's future in the industry segment was uncertain.
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J&J's aggressive moves in orthopedics has industry executives nervous, most recently about its purchases of artificial disk maker Waldemar Link and biomaterials expert Orquest. The Link valuation (J&J is paying $325 million upfront, plus earn-outs) isn't quite as high as some earlier orthopedics deals, but it is still comparatively substantial. With Link and Orquest under its roof, J&J is poised to assume market leadership in the traditional orthopedics markets and also in spine.
The once consolidating orthopedic implant business is, if anything, going in the opposite direction, given the decisions this week by parents of two of the leading companies to create stand-alone companies of their orthopedic businesses. Bristol-Myers confirmed what had been rumored for months: that it will spin off its Zimmer orthopedics business into a public company rather than sell the company to some other player. Earlier, Sulzer announced that it plans to spin off its medical device business, Sulzer Medica, in response to pressure from a large investor who was concerned about the industrial giant's declining stock performance. But these individual deals also represent a surprising industry turnaround--the consolidation of two years ago has largely stabilized pricing, allowing independent companies to thrive once again.
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