Thermo Fisher: Is there a ‘monster deal’ on the horizon?

With its robust balance sheet, a large acquisition by Thermo Fisher within the fragmented life science industry would not be surprising, an Evercore ISI analyst says.

Over the past few years, the life science industry has seen continual disruption and consolidation through M&A activity, but according to Evercore ISI analyst Ross Muken the space remains fragmented.

Muken noted this following a breakfast meeting with Marc Casper, CEO of Thermo Fisher. Thermo Fisher has been one of – if not – the most aggressive player in the sector, building up its business through numerous acquisitions.

Image: iStock/syahrir maulana

In 2014, the firm paid $15.8 billion (€14 billion) to takeover Life Technologies, and in 2017 added contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) Patheon through a $7.2 billion deal. Several smaller deals have also occurred regularly over the past five years, including the acquisition of BD’s Advanced Bioprocessing business in 2018 and Finesse Solutions the year prior.

“Right now, everything is humming for Thermo Fisher and nothing on the horizon suggests the momentum will slow,” said Muken.

Despite macro threats from US politics, Brexit and China, end markets are in good shape, he added. But if it does slow, he suggested the firm will be ready to up momentum through M&A using a balance sheet that provides “plenty of firepower for bigger deals.”

His view is that: “Thermo Fisher will continue to be Thermo Fisher and we should not be surprised by a monster deal like Life [Technologies] or Patheon, nor by a flurry of activity in attractive markets.” These include areas such as medical imaging, seen through Thermo Fisher’s recent acquisition of Affymetrix and Gatan.

Quoting American professional basketball executive Larry Bird, Muken said: “Once you are labeled ‘the best’ you want to stay up there, and you can’t do it by loafing around. If I don’t keep changing, I’m history.” According to Muken, “there will be no loafing at Thermo Fisher under Marc’s watch.”

The meeting with Casper came days before rival firm Danaher Corporation announced it had entered an agreement to buy GE’s Biopharma business for $21.4 billion.

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