The preliminary numbers are in, and 2018 has shattered the previous record for healthcare M&A deal volume with 1,850 transactions announced, and counting, according to Deal Search Online. That is more than 200 deals more than the previous record of 1,617 transactions announced in 2017. Of the 591 deals that disclosed a price across all 13 healthcare sectors, the total dollar volume comes out to about $330 billion, including two mega deals: Takeda Pharmaceutical Company’s $81.5 billion acquisition of rare disease pharmaceutical company Shire plc and Cigna’s purchase of pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts for $67 billion. By contrast, 2017’s total reached $311.6 billion, the largest deal being CVS Health’s $78 billion acquisition of managed care giant Aetna Inc.
Abundant capital and investor interest in a number of health care sectors has led to this frenzy of activity. The final number is also not yet known for the long-term care sector (including skilled nursing and seniors housing transactions), but those deals made up the largest proportion of any sector with 410 transactions announced so far. Up next was Physician Medical Groups with 232 deals, driven mostly by private equity buyers rushing into the dental and dermatology specialties for their safe and steady revenue streams.
This meteoric rise in deal activity is even more impressive when considering we had never previously recorded more than 1,200 deals in a year before 2014. Will this record stand at the beginning of 2020? That is unlikely given the more uncertain economic conditions brought on at the end of last year. But who thought we’d surpass the 1,600~ deals announced in 2017?