Smith & Nephew Has Multiple Suitors First Stryker and Now Reportedly Medtronic

Posted in Orthopedics by Arundhati Parmar on June 4, 2014

Orthopedics company Stryker has shown an interest in Smith & Nephew, its rival across the pond. Apparently Medtronic is also interested in taking over the U.K. company.

Orthopedics company Smith & Nephew's stock has soared in the past seven days. 

In a matter of a week, two news articles have painted the London-based maker of hips and knees as coveted by equally if not better-known names in the medtech world.

First it was Stryker, whose CEO finally acknowledged that the company had taken a preliminary look at Smith & Nephew from and M&A perspective. When Smith & Nephew's shares rose to new highs, a U.K. regulatory panel contacted Stryker and at the panel's request Stryker said it would not bid for the company for a six-month period, according to several news reports.

Now Bloomberg is reporting that Smith & Nephew has a second suitor. Not an orthopedics firm. But medical devices giant Medtronic, which is described as a "more serious bidder" than Kalamazoo, Michigan-based Stryker.

In an email, a Medtronic spokeswoman declined to comment on the rumored takeover, although Bloomberg says "no offer is imminent."

Were this deal to happen, it would underscore how large medical device companies want to be the one-stop shop for their hospital customers amid continuing pricing pressures. It is also a response to the fact that as hospitals moving to reduce treatment variation, they are looking to have fewer vendors that they do business with on any given product or device category.

If a transatlantic marriage ensued, the deal also would emphasize how large companies are trying to use scale to arm against the challenges wrought by a change in healthcare paradigm and the Affordable Care Act.

But the deal, as Bloomberg reports, has other immediate advantages for Medtronic. Here's a portion from the story:

The transaction would probably be structured as a tax inversion, with Medtronic using Smith & Nephew’s corporate shell to move its legal residence to the U.K., the people said. The gap between the 35 percent federal tax rate and much lower levies in some European countries is spurring such deals -- including Pfizer Inc. (PFE)’s now shelved effort to acquire AstraZeneca Plc. (AZN) The U.K. has a 21 percent corporate income tax rate.

Medtronic’s Chief Executive Officer Omar Ishrak has said he wouldn’t rule out a tax-inversion deal.

“Strategically, we do have this current problem that we have a lot of cash outside the U.S.,” he said in a May 20 telephone interview. “We encourage some kind of U.S. tax reform that allows us access to that cash in a more reasonable way.”

The report says Smith & Nephew is aware that Medtronic is evaluating the company. A company spokesman declined to comment on its new suitor in an email Wednesday.

[Photo Credit: user vanda_g]


-- By Arundhati Parmar, Senior Editor, MD+DI


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The Next Thing From The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight

Who would have thought it would have come to this from just ten years ago? The Joke Medical Device Company of the Year: Medtronic. Let's see, what hasn't gone wrong with Medtronic in the past year, nothing I can see. Massive patent litigation lawsuit losses, a string of huge recalls, Federal government cases of kickbacks, a RICO Act suit by a major third-party payor…you know them all…and probably more. I blame it all on that very, very loose term, "leadership".

The last three Medtronic CEO's and that company's Boards of Directors have never had a clue what to do with the Giant. Luckily for the past decade, they always had great, dependable pre-2004 products, a fantastic sales and marketing force, and a toothless, competition that worked very, very hard to emulate Number One in all manners…however bad that tactic was.

Now, we have a corporate state at a major tipping point. Medtronic could possibly go in either direction, but the latest evidence is that it should go way, way down from here. So, what is the great and thoughtful solution for this critical juncture? Buy Smith & Nephew. What?! Wait, WHAT??!! Once again, the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight is back on its high horse. Is this the only, only single-step "solution" company "leaders" can think about? Buy something big and let's see what happens? How can this do anything for Medtronic? It can't. The whole idea is so incomprehensible.

When are the Medtronic shareholders going to find some gonadal fortitude and tell Ishrak and the Board to go "old school" to get back on track?

Paul Stein