Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Covidien Takes Small Bites

In a recently announced deal, Covidien Ltd. said it would acquire a line of diagnostics products from Pinyons Medical Technology Inc., a privately-held company based in Park City, Utah. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

Even without knowing the price, it's fair to say that a decade ago a deal like this would hardly be worthy of a mention. In those days when Covidien--perhaps better known as Tyco Healthcare--bought something, it BOUGHT something. The company--as a division of Tyco International--built itself into a major seller of hospital supplies and products through a series of significant acquisitions, including billion dollar-plus acquisitions of Kendall International, Mallinckrodt, Sherwood-Davis & Geck,and U.S. Surgical.

All that came to an end, however, in 2002, when Tyco International got dragged into the storm of corporate scandals that rocked Enron, Worldcom and others. The health care group was never implicated.

Fast forward five years: Tyco Healthcare spun out of Tyco and took the name Covidien, "an original name, inspired by themes of collaboration and life... selected for its global meaning" according to a 2007 press release. (While we might quibble with the global reference, we do agree it isn't likely to provoke images of Dennis Kozlowski.)

Since that time, Covidien has been building itself up through a strategy of acquisitions, investment and high profile promotions. (See photo.) But these acquisitions are much more measured than in the old Tyco days and mostly fit into the company's existing businesses.

That's where Pinyons fits in. Covidien acquired a number of devices and related assets, including the Pinyons POWRSyringe Injector and the POWRSyringe Monitor. These devices facilitate manual x-ray contrast media injections during angiography procedures performed in the cardiac catheterization laboratory and interventional radiology suite.

Over the past few years most of Covidien's acquisitions have been related to its medical device business unit, the largest of Covidien's four businesses. The new acquisition likely will slide into its imaging business unit, but Covidien also has a pharmaceuticals and medical supplies business that's worth watching. Anyone interested in reading more, can check out our May IN VIVO for a feature on Covidien's new life as an independent health care company.

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