Device IPOs Looking Bleak, But Some VCs are Cashing Out
This article was originally published in Start Up
Situations look bleak for medical device IPOs interested in going public, but venture investors in companies that went public last year are beginning to sell or divest some of their shares.
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At In3 West, a medical device conference held in Las Vegas recently, Windhover Information convened a panel of venture investors to ask them what's in store for device companies seeking investments in the near future, and to address one nagging question: whether or not the heady funding levels of 2007 are sustainable, or even desirable. Certainly exits have become more challenging; consolidation has removed certain would-be acquirers and the IPO market has become more demanding; no company will get out there without at least $30 to $40 million in revenues, several on the panel felt. Others were feeling the pressure of having to carry portfolio companies for even longer periods of time; more complex technologies, lag times at the FDA, and the need to get companies not only to the commercial stage but to a revenue ramp were pushing up the number of years to an exit and total investment dollars. Many were optimistic that early stage deals, exits by acquisition and other unusual phenomena would continue to happen; but selectivity was the theme of the day.
Brief summaries of recent medtech market and industry developments. This month we cover secondary buyers as an exit strategy for Boston Scientific and others; a review of medtech dealmaking in the first quarter of 2008, and US markets for patient monitoring products.
The first quarter of 2008 saw a dearth in financings for both the medical device and in vitro diagnostics segments. In the former, volume fell short of the billion dollar mark while the latter failed to reach the success the previous quarter had witnessed, despite completing an equal number of transactions. M&A in medical devices didn't look any more promising, bringing in $1.6 billion, a huge slide from the impressive $10 billion total of 2007's fourth quarter. However, there was one bright spot: acquisitions within in vitro diagnostics/research reagents substantially increased to $3.1 billion from the $370 million spent in the previous three months, led by Inverness Medical Innovations' $1.1 billion takeover of Matria Healthcare Inc. Also noteworthy: oncology diagnostics alliances grew slowly and steadily thanks to increasing attention from larger companies.