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Righting Wright Medical

Executive Summary

In the early 90's, already strong in total knee replacements, Wright Medical ambitiously staked out markets in hips, trauma, spine and arthroscopy. Much of the expansion was accomplished through a series of acquisitions, perhaps the most important of which was the 1994 acquisition of Orthomet Inc. But those ambitions were never realized, and Wright spent from 1996 to 1998 changing management several times, laying off large numbers of employees and exiting nearly all of the businesses it tried to get into in 1993-'94, all while sales were flat or in decline. Nevertheless, Warburg Pincus, which bought Wright this month, clearly sees opportunity where others don't.

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Is Wright Medical Back on Track?

Wright Medical hasn’t enjoyed the smoothest ride over the past 15 years, a stretch that included a spin-out, debt problems, and a buyout, as well as an IPO. All the while, though, the company has proven to be an innovator in the large joints industries and now—under new CEO Gary Henley—it is establishing itself as a force in the extremities and biomaterials markets.

Is Wright Medical Back on Track?

Wright Medical hasn’t enjoyed the smoothest ride over the past 15 years, a stretch that included a spin-out, debt problems, and a buyout, as well as an IPO. All the while, though, the company has proven to be an innovator in the large joints industries and now—under new CEO Gary Henley—it is establishing itself as a force in the extremities and biomaterials markets.

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The spate of recent carve-outs from Boston Scientific has private equity and venture capital investors hungry for similar deals across the industry. But device companies don't seem to be serving much up.

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