There’s still one week left to go in the month of September, and the third quarter, but the trends have already established themselves. Merger and acquisition activity in health care dropped 20% compared with the previous quarter, down to 331 deals compared with 415 in Q2:16. The third quarter also pales in comparison to the same quarter a year earlier, when 411 deals were posted (-19%). Even with a week to go, it’s obvious that deal making has slowed considerably and likely won’t recover to those levels.
Spending was also much lower than in the previous quarter, and the year-ago period. At the moment, $45.9 billion is on the books for Q3:16, down 48% compared with Q2’s $88.3 billion.
Spending is not a good barometer of the overall health of the healthcare M&A market, because the majority of deals do not disclose financial terms. Those that do tend to skew the view. The third quarter of 2015 is a perfect example. Total spending remains at $193.5 billion in Q3:15 because that is when Aetna (NYSE: AET) and Anthem (NYSE: ANTM) announced a combined $91 billion to acquire Humana (NYSE: HUM) and Cigna (NYSE: CI), respectively. Both deals have been challenged by the Department of Justice and hearings are scheduled in November and December 2016. Even before rulings are written, the Anthem/Cigna deal appears doomed, with both sides accusing the other of breaching the merger agreement.
That said, Q3:16’s $45.9 billion in spending is 76% lower than the same time last year. Stay tuned for complete results in a couple of weeks.