Private equity firms are acquiring top CMOs at a rapid rate, says GlobalData

Acquisitions of pharmaceutical contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs) are increasing, and the most common type of acquirer is private equity (PE) firms, which view the industry as a prudent choice for a return on investment, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

The company’s report, ‘M&A in the Contract Manufacturing Industry: Implications and Outlook – 2021 Edition’, highlights that between 2018 and 2020, PE firms have shown a rapidly increasing level of investment in the CMO industry. PE firms acquired almost 70 pharmaceutical contract manufacturing companies, and PE-backed CMOs acquired eight during 2018-2020. Private equity firms now own many of the world’s leading CMOs, such as Recipharm, Cambrex Corp, and PCI Pharma Services.

Adam Bradbury, PharmSource Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, passed under President Trump, reduced corporation tax rates and made it more profitable to be a private equity firm. This has, in effect, increased the spending power of these companies and contributed to the rising levels of investment in the CMO industry.”

GlobalData’s report states that PE-backed CMOs will find they have a lot more financial support to add to their service offerings and value. All the top CMOs recently acquired by private equity firms were in turn active acquirers of other CMOs or contract manufacturing facilities.

Bradbury continues: “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought mixed fortunes for the CMO industry. Although M&A activity was higher over the 2018-2020 period than previously, it declined somewhat between 2019 and 2020. Nonetheless, private equity presence in the CMO industry is growing and investor appetite is strong.”

Supply chain disruption and problems with mass vaccine production mean there are currently significant opportunities for CMOs, and they represent a prudent investment opportunity, with vaccine developers in particular signing contract service agreements at an unprecedented rate.

Bradbury concludes: “Even during the height of the COVID-19 crisis in 2020, large CMOs such as Fareva, Delpharm, Catalent, Vetter, and Piramal Pharma Solutions were acquiring companies, showing that large CMOs mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity is not deterred by the uncertainty of the COVID-19 predicament.”

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