In a final move that seemed (at least in the eyes of some industry analysts) as likely to be designed to increase J&J‘s price tag for the acquisition of Guidant as it was an actual competitive bid, Boston Scientific had this month upped its bid to $27 billion ($80 per share), and when the midnight (January 24) deadline passed without J&J responding with another offer, it now appears likely that the winner in this bidding war will be Boston Scientific. Guidant has accepted Boston Scientific’s offer and terminated the agreement to be acquired by J&J. For its part, J&J issued a statement saying, “it had determed not to increase its last offer for Guidant Corp., because to do so would not have been in the best interest of its shareholders.”Confidence is high in the likelihood of BSX making a success of this, given the related deal with Abbott (to acquire Guidant’s vascular business), the fit with Boston Scientific and, at least in general, the relative value of the acquisition price tag and the Guidant revenue streams and balance sheets. But one has to give pause to this and consider several points:
- J&J is as experienced in acquisitions as any monolith out there and it viewed the $27B price tag as too high. Do they know something that BSX doesn’t?
- BSX and J&J have been bitter rivals in the DES market and one can’t help but wonder if the rivalry hasn’t clouded BSX’s judgment, making this little more than a pyrrhic victory for BSX. A loss for J&J does not equate with a win for BSX.
- The combined BSX/GDT business now has $12 billion in debt, a hefty burden that can only be lightened by market performance (oh yes, see “Guidant Defibrillator Recalls”).
It’s very hard not to think back to the Time/Warner acquistion of AOL, and in that case Time/Warner did not have a competitor who balked at the value of the deal, and we all know how well the AOL acquisition worked for T/W.