While ortho giant Zimmer's bid for Biomet is investigated by the Federal Trade Commission to determine how the acquisition will impact orthopedic implant buyers, attention will turn towards Zimmer rival Stryker Orthopaedics.
Stryker has been long rumored to be interested in augmenting its position in the forefront of the increasingly top-heavy global orthopedic device market by acquiring UK-based Smith & Nephew. Although an immediate move towards acquiring the recon/trauma/wound healing manufacturer was quashed last month when UK regulators told Stryker to put up or shut up, analysts expect to see greater momentum towards a takeover in the next six months, depending on the outcome of the Zimmer-Biomet deal.
Similar to the Medtronic-Covidien purchase two weeks ago, a US-domiciled firm's acquisition of a European manufacturer could allow the purchasing company to move its headquarters overseas under a more beneficial tax regime. With the EU planning on cracking down harder on multinationals with regard to tax compliance, Smith & Nephew could represent a juicy carrot for any large firm looking to make a move in the global orthopedics market a fact that may not be lost on another of Stryker's rivals: Johnson & Johnson, which has already shown its willingness to shake up the competitive landscape via its 2012 acquisition of trauma and spine giant Synthes.
Unless Johnson & Johnson makes its intentions known in the immediate future we should be in for a fairly quiet summer, though things are sure to heat up in the fall. Regardless of how these transactions develop, it would seem that the global orthopedics market is leaning towards oligarchy.