MedWorld Advisors recently had a discussion with heads of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) from three of the industry’s largest and more active M&A players.
Participants were Charlie Attlan, SVP of corporate strategy and business development at Boston Scientific, Eric Knudsen, VP of corporate development at Zoll Medical, and Tom Gales, head of mergers and acquisitions at Draeger Medical. As Draeger is based in Germany, Zoll is owned by a Japanese company, and BSC is a large U.S. public company, all refelect varied corporate cultural backgrounds. Some highlights:
M&A strategy is core to corporate growth
It’s a dynamic market, and industry players of all sizes must be proactive and flexible to stay on the leading edge of market technology and opportunities. In terms of how M&A activity fits into company goals, the panelists agreed it’s a combination of planned strategy, tactics, and flexible opportunism.
“Our goal is to be strategic and to be proactive, not reactive,” Knudsen says. “You’re always being pitched new strategies and you have to have an open mind to that.”
With the rapid change of technology and the volume of possibilities presented to these companies, no two days are alike. Strategy must be flexible, and companies need to dynamically adjust to meet opportunity.
“It’s definitely exciting when smaller, newer companies come – you get opportunities you might not even have thought of before,” Gales says. “Being willing to look at and consider new things is important.”
M&A activity can be initiated at any time
The panelists agreed that a new deal can originate most anywhere. It’s rarely a clear-cut path, rather a matter of envisioning possibilities and executing them.
“My job is to connect the dots, read the tea leaves, and figure out where there’s an opportunity,” Attlan says. “Sometimes it’s obvious, it’s ‘Hey Charlie, this is investment banker ABC and we’re selling this target’ but most of the time it’s not that simple.”
M&A idea coordinators, strategy integrators
“I see myself as a bit of a spider in the web,” Gales says. “We’re catching and funneling all of the opportunities to us, and then we know who the right people are in the organization that can quickly give feedback, evaluate, and say: ‘Does this actually make sense to consider in more detail or not?’”
It’s all about bringing the right people to the table at Zoll, as well. Deals are multi-step endeavors, beginning with having everybody aboard the same boat.
“I view my job as a coordinator and consensus builder,” Knudsen says. “There are a number of stakeholders that feed into decision-making and whether or not we pursue a particular opportunity.”
Nimbleness and accountability are critical to executing the right deals at the right time.
Attlan’s parting wisdom: “Whether you’re a seller or a buyer, what’s really tough with M&A is that timing is super important, and seizing the day is important. There’s real value in knowing what you want and being able to act quickly.”
At MedWorld Advisors, we agree. Our experience is that Value = Strategic Fit + Timing.