Key Drivers And Long-Term Impact of Pharma M&A in India

Corporate M&A is increasingly considered an integral part of the organization’s growth strategy for value creation, by a large number of pharma companies, across the world. In tandem, it throws open many other doors of opportunities, such as reduction of business risks and massive corporate restructuring.

In the post globalization era, mostly the large to medium sized Indian players are imbibing this strategy to gain a competitive edge, in the highly crowded generic drug market, not just in India, but also in various other parts of the world. At the same time, it is equally true that there are many other pharma biggies who have moved into the top 10 of the domestic league table in India, following mainly the organic growth path, and are still staying that way.

For example, the league table ranking (MAT October 2017) of the Indian domestic pharma market, published by AIOCD Pharmasofttech AWACS Pvt. Ltd, reflects a similar scenario. It shows, not many local Indian drug players seem to be too aggressive in Merger and Acquisition (M&A) within the country. In fact, among companies featuring in the TOP 10, only around half seems to have not gone for any major domestic M&A. The remaining half pursued a predominantly organic route, for a quantum growth in the Indian market.

In this article, I shall try to fathom, both the critical drivers and the long-term impact of pharma M&A initiatives – both inbound and outbound, with their either origin or destination being in India.

Are the key drivers different?

India is overwhelmingly a branded generic market. So are its key players. Thus, most pharma M&As in India are related to generic drugs.

Thus, unlike research-based global pharma players, where one of the most critical drivers for M&A, is related to new drug innovation to maintain sustained growth of the organization, the drivers for the same in India is somewhat different. Neither are these exactly the same for exports and the domestic market, with occasional overlaps in a few cases, though.

Export markets:

To expand and grow the pharma business in the export markets is obviously the main overall objectives. To attain this, the acquiring companies generally take into consideration some common critical factors, among others. Each of which is carefully assessed while going through the valuation process and arriving at the final deal price for the company to be acquired. A few examples of which are as follows:

  • The span and quality of market access and the future scope for value addition
  • Opportunities for value creation with available generic products, active ANDAs and DMFs
  • A competitive portfolio, especially covering specialty products, novel drug delivery systems and even off-patent biologic drugs
  • Market competitors’ profile
  • Product sourcing alternatives and other available assets

Domestic market:

Similarly, in the domestic market too, there could be several critical drivers. The following, may be cited just as an illustration. There could well be some overlaps here, as well, with those of export markets:

  • Moving up the pharma value chain, e.g., from bulk drug producer to formulation producer with marketing, intending to climb further up
  • A new range and type of the generic product portfolio
  • Expansion of therapeutic and geographic reach
  • Expansion of consumers and customers base
  • Greater reach, depth, efficiency and productivity of the distribution channel
  • Acquiring critical manufacturing and other related tangible and intangible assets

A glimpse at the 2016-17 M&A trend in India:

An E&Y paper titled, “Transactions 2017” says, India continues to enjoy a prominent position in the global generic pharma space, due to many preferred advantages available within the country, such as a large number of USFDA approved sites coupled with low Capex and operating costs. As a result, the pharmaceuticals sector witnessed 51 pharma deals in the year 2016, with an aggregate disclosed deal value of USD4.6 billion.

However, according to Grant Thornton Advisory Pvt. Ltd, there have been around 27 M&A deals in pharma and healthcare sector by Q3 2017, valued at USD719 million. This appears to be way below 54 deals, valued at USD4.7 billion in calendar year 2016.

Cross-border activity dominated the sector:

Highlighting that cross-border activity dominated the sector, the E&Y paper said, “outbound and domestic transactions drove most of the deal activity, with 21 deals each. In terms of the disclosed deal value, outbound and inbound activity stood at USD2.1 billion each. Domestic deal-making was concentrated in smaller value bands with an aggregate deal value of USD342 million, of which USD272 million (4 deals) worth of deals were restructuring deals.”

Inbound and a domestic M&A occupied the center stage:

It is interesting to note that despite initial hiccups, inbound overseas interest in sterile injectable continued, along with a range of different generic formulations. The notable among which, as captured in the above paper, are as follows:

  • China-based Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical (Group) Company Limited announced the acquisition of an 86 percent stake in Gland Pharma Limited for up to USD1.26 billion.
  • US-based Baxter International Inc. entered into an agreement to acquire Claris Injectable Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Claris Lifesciences Limited, for USD625 million.
  • In November 2017, India’s Torrent Pharmaceuticals acquired more than 120 brands from Unichem Laboratories in India and Nepal, and its manufacturing plant at Sikkim for USD558 million.

Outbound M&A:

Facing continuous pricing and other pressures in the largest pharma market in the world – United States, Indian pharma players sharpened their focus on Europe and other under-penetrated markets, with a wider range of product portfolio. Following are a few examples of recent outbound M&As for the year, done predominantly to serve the above purpose, besides a couple of others with smaller deal values:

  • Intas Pharma, through its wholly owned subsidiary inked an agreement to acquire Actavis UK Limited and Actavis Ireland Limited from Teva Pharmaceutical for an enterprise value of USD767 million.
  • Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories entered into an agreement with Teva Pharmaceutical and an affiliate of Allergan plc to acquire a portfolio of eight ANDAs in the US for USD350 million.
  • Sun Pharma stepped into the Japanese prescription drug market by acquiring 14 brands from Novartis for USD293 million.
  • Lupin also strengthened its position in Japan by acquiring 21 products from Shionogi & Company Limited for USD150 million. In 2017, Lupin also acquired US-based Symbiomix Therapeutics – a privately held company focused on bringing innovative therapies to market for gynecologic infections. The acquisition value stands at USD 150 million.
  • Two other relatively large outbound acquisitions in 2017 were Piramal Enterprises’ acquisition of anti-spasticity and pain management drug portfolio of Mallinckrodt for USD171 million and Aurobindo Pharma’s Generis Farmaceutica USD142.5 million.

Long term business impact of M&A on the merged entity:

So far so good. Nevertheless, a key point to ponder, what is the long-term impact of M&A on the merged entities in India. It may impact several critical areas, such as financial ratios, reputation on drug quality standards or even its impact on employee morale. Sun Pharma’s acquisition of Ranbaxy in 2015 may be an example in this regard. Not too many credible studies are available for Indian pharma companies in this regard, it could be an interesting area for further research, though.

A research paper titled “Post-Merger Performance of Acquiring Firms: A Case Study on Indian Pharmaceutical Industry”, published by the International Journal of Research in Management & Business Studies (IJRMBS), in its July-September 2015 issue, captured an interesting point. It found, that M&As have a significant impact on the merged company performance as compared to the pre-merger period, but the impact is evident more in the immediate year after the merger.

The paper concluded, although the profitability had improved in the merged company as indicated in the financial ratios, like PBIT, Cash Profit margin and Net profit margin, but the improvement in the performance is observed only up to 1 year of the merger. As far as operating performance is concerned the short term positive impact can be observed, but again it lasts up to 1 year only. The overall study results, therefore, indicate the positive impact of merger on the operating and financial performance only in the short run (+1 year).

Is it a mixed bag?

Nevertheless, there are also other studies in this regard, which concluded the favorable impact of M&As on corporate performance. However, those studies adopted certain other parameters of measuring the financial and operational improvements in the merged companies. Some more research findings in this area – ferreted out from literature review and are available in the same issue of IJRMBS), revealing a mixed bag. Let me quote some these findings, starting from the earlier years, as follows:

Kruze, Park and Suzuki (2003): With a sample of 56 mergers of manufacturing companies from the period 1969 to 1997 concluded that the long term operating performance of control firms was positive but insignificant and high correlation existed between pre and post-merger performance.

Beena (2004): Analyzed the pre and post-merger performance of firms belonging to pharma manufacturing industries with samples of 115 acquiring firms between the period 1995 and 2000. For the purpose of analysis four sets of financial ratios were considered and it was tested using t –test. The study showed no improvement in the performance, as compared to the pre-merger period for the sample companies. 

Vanitha. S and Selvam. M (2007): With a sample of 58, to study the impact of merger on the performance in the Indian manufacturing sector from 2000 to 2002, the study concluded, overall financial performance is insignificant for 13 variables.

Pramod Mantravadi and Vidyadhar Reddy (2008): Investigated a sample of 118 cases of mergers in their study. They found, more impact of merger was noticed on the profitability of banking and finance industry, pharmaceutical, textile and electric equipment sector, whereas the significant decline was seen in chemical and Agri-Products sector.

More Indian studies are expected in this interesting area to understand the possible long-term impact of pharma M&A in India.

Conclusion:

Be that as it may, inbound and outbound consolidation and expansion of the Indian pharma industry through M&A will continue. However, this likely to happen at a varying pace, depending upon both the opportunities and constraints for business growth. This will include both in the export and the domestic markets.

Increasingly complex business environment, intense drug pricing pressure in the US, dwindling much differentiated product pipeline, impending patent expiry of blockbuster drugs, will drive the inbound M&A. Whereas, the domestic players would like to spread their wings in search of greater market access, across the world. This process is likely to include a different type of product-mix, including specialty and biologic products, creating some barrier to market entry for many other generic players.

Going forward, the critical drivers for pharma M&A in India, both inbound and outbound, are unlikely to undergo any radical change. Interestingly, available research studies regarding its long-term impact on the companies involved in this process are not yet conclusive. However, many researchers on the subject still believe, especially the financial impact of M&As on the merged entities in India last no more than short to medium term.

By: Tapan J. Ray  

Disclaimer: The views/opinions expressed in this article are entirely my own, written in my individual and personal capacity. I do not represent any other person or organization for this opinion.

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