Smith & Nephew and Centerpulse: Perfect Together
While the deal between Smith & Nephew and Centerpulse may feel like the product of recent events, most notably Centerpulse's troubles, a closer look reveals the complementary nature of the two companies, showing the merger would have made sense in any case.
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Even by the standards of today's medical device world, the acquisition last year of Plus Orthopedics Holdings by Smith & Nephew was impressive. Perhaps it was the deal's value: by any measure, one billion Swiss francs (or just under $900 million) simply has a nice ring to it. Perhaps it was the deal's European provenance: rarely in Europe do small start-ups grow to a size to justify such a valuation. But if the deal was anything but typical, the story behind Plus seems almost textbook.
Smith & Nephew announced that it will buy privately-held Swiss company Plus Orthopedics. The acquisition gives Smith & Nephew a 12% global market share in the total reconstruction market, bumping it up to the global number-four position. S&N officials say the deal is about scale; the combination offers manufacturing leverage, including improved capacity utilization and improvements in the costs of goods. The merged companies also expect to leverage combined sales and marketing capabilities and look for an increase in sales resulting from putting S&N products through Plus sales channels-and vice versa. Some analysts have insisted that the Plus deal is about scale--but they're referring to the bulk that's required for Smith & Nephew to remain independent. S&N has been rumored to be a takeover candidate itself, in an industry in which the number of major players has been steadily shrinking due to consolidation.
Zimmer's acquisition of Implex Corp. for slightly greater than $100 million is, in some respects, the natural culmination of a standing alliance between the two companies. But it's also interesting for the way in which it seems to embrace all of orthopedics' hot spots. Building on Implex's innovative Hedrocel biomaterial, Zimmer has already developed hip, knee, and shoulder implants, as well as trauma products, out of the collaboration, and has announced that seven development projects are underway. At the same time, this is also clearly a spine play: Implex had developed a line of spine products out of its material, which have already begun to be implanted in Europe and the US, and Zimmer said in announcing the deal that it intends to expand that spine business by incorporating it into Zimmer's own spine division.