Simmons & Simmons: M&A to remain a major trend for health and life sciences sector

Simmons & Simmons: M&A to remain a major trend for health and life sciences sector

David Brangam

Irish businesses in the healthcare and life sciences sector are likely to continue using mergers and acquisitions to drive growth in the challenging post-pandemic period, research by international law firm Simmons & Simmons suggests.

A survey conducted by Censuswide on behalf of the firm asked nearly 2,000 senior legal counsels and decision-makers working across 18 countries about issues ranging from public perceptions of the healthcare and life sciences (HLS) sector to the key impediments and drivers of growth.

When asked to consider the challenges expected to confront the HLS sector in the next twelve months, more than a third (34 per cent) of the 100 Irish-based respondents cited the cost of developing new products, while 31 per cent said that the timeline for getting a product to market also represented a challenge.

These figures are in line with responses collected at a global level and clearly demonstrate some concern in the sector about the feasibility of bringing innovative products to market, the firm said.

In terms of considering the areas of growth in the sector as a result of the pandemic, almost a quarter of respondents in Ireland said that robotics presented an opportunity to improve and modernise practices.

In the same vein, 22 per cent of respondents named molecular biology as the most likely area for growth within the HLS sector, which would facilitate continued improvement in disease prevention and treatment.

Looking to the future of the sector, 74 per cent of respondents surveyed in Ireland said that attracting staff with digital expertise would be important in unlocking opportunities in the next 12 months. The pursuit of collaborations and mergers and acquisitions were also identified as key to ensuring business viability and growth.

David Brangam, head of corporate and M&A in Simmons & Simmons’s Dublin office, said: “We have seen many clients undertake tactical acquisitions to drive growth through M&A within the Irish HLS sector and these results suggest that this trend is set to continue with businesses using M&A to acquire or enhance capabilities, accelerate digitalisation and adopt new technologies with a view to reinforcing their competitive advantage.”

Alexandre Regniault, global head of the firm’s HLS sector, said: “Our research shows that following a period of significant pressure on the HLS sector, business leaders are confident in the resilience of their business models, with 94 per cent of all respondents telling us that they’re confident of the sector’s ability to deal with opportunities and challenges in the pipeline.

“However, we can also see clear concern over the time required to develop and market new products.”

Mr Regniault added: “This data shows where our HLS clients are needing greater support from their external counsel and Simmons will use this research to build on its multidisciplinary team of lawyers and experts, ensuring that they are ever more able to grasp the complex scientific background underlying our clients’ legal and business issues.”

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