As market pressures have increased, the pace of consolidation in the medical device industry has been accelerating in the past five years. However, the game-changing megamergers may be behind us.

The only milestone merger that happened in 2016 in medical technology (“medtech”) was Abbott Laboratories’ acquisition of St. Jude for $25 billion. Other key multibillion-dollar deals so far this year have been Abbott’s buyout of Alere for $5.8 billion, Canon’s acquisition of Toshiba Medical Systems for $5.9 billion, and Johnson & Johnson’s acquisition of Abbott Medical Optics from Abbott Laboratories for $4.3 billion.

While large, transformative transactions are rare, the trend towards strategic merger and acquisition (M&A) activities at a tuck-in level in medtech continued in 2016. In fact, medical device companies have demonstrated an increasing appetite for strategic “bolt-on” acquisitions that would fill their portfolio gaps and subsequently help them establish more comprehensive solutions or expand their geographical reach. For example, Thermo Fisher has been pursuing a steady M&A strategy in its life sciences business and secured a string of bolt-on deals in 2016 alone, including the acquisitions of biological analysis toolmaker Affymetrix; leading high-performance electron microscopy provider FEI; and a stem cell and reagent firm, MTI-GlobalStem.

Heading into 2017, although the new landscape favors large companies who can leverage economies of scale, GlobalData anticipates the calming of the high-profile M&A scene. Instead, the shift to strategic M&A activities at a tuck-in level will continue, as medical devices companies start to reconsider their approach to dealing with execution and synergy capture. Allergan’s acquisition of Zeltiq ($2.5 billion) in February is a good example of companies leveraging existing competitive advantages and seeking inorganic growth through more focused M&As that are complementary and strategic. By adding the body contouring CoolSculpting System to Allergan’s facial aesthetics, plastic surgery and regenerative medicine offerings, the company is poised to create a world-class aesthetics business.

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