Medical products provide injection for Irish economy

Medical products provide injection for Irish economy

By: Damien
24 Sep, 2021

The medical products sector in Ireland has fared well in 2021 in terms of investment and acquisitions and is set for further growth and investment in the remainder of the year and into 2022.

One of the bigger M&A deals involving an Irish company this year was completed in April, when medical products company Healthcare 21 was acquired by Swedish rival AddLife.

The deal for Cork-based Healthcare 21 was reported in the Irish Times to be worth an initial €240 million, of which 74% will be paid in cash and the remainder in shares in AddLife, which is listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange.

AddLife bought Healthcare 21 to give the company a presence in the Irish and UK markets. Post-deal, Healthcare 21 will operate as a standalone business under its own brand, with the existing management remaining in place.

“AddLife are an experienced specialist provider to the Life Science market segment and offer a long-term perspective, a European presence and a complimentary portfolio of supplier and proprietary brands, which will ultimately enhance our offering to our customers,” said Tara Kearney, Healthcare 21 CEO.

“This is an exciting development for Healthcare 21… it accelerates growth opportunities for us and positions Healthcare 21 for the next stage of our journey. Being part of a larger European Healthcare group will allow Healthcare 21 to deliver an expanded product and service offering.

“We now have two of the best-in-class healthcare organizations working together, with so many opportunities for us to continue to develop and grow our departments, our divisions, and our group companies.”

Sector strength

This deal is indicative of the strength of the medical products sector in Ireland. As with other medical and pharmaceutical sectors, Ireland is viewed as a leader in Europe and respected around the world for the quality and innovations of the products companies produce. Indeed, many leading global medical device manufacturers have a base in Ireland.

In Ireland, there are about 160 businesses – of which about 90 are indigenous – that develop, manufacture and market a wide range of medical products and services, from wound care products to contact lenses, stents and orthopaedic implants. About 24,000 people are employed in the sector, and exports of medical products are worth €6.8 billion per annum, according to www.medicaldevice.ie.

The government has backed the sector, including through its inward investment arm IDA Ireland (www.idaireland.ie), and there is a thriving research sector involving many of Ireland’s universities, often in collaboration with the business sector.

Continuing investment

A signifier of the strength of the sector came in July, when eye health company Bausch + Lomb, unveiled plans to invest €90 million in its plant at in Waterford to create extra capacity to meet the expected demand for its Biotrue ONEday® range of contact lenses. www.idaireland.com/newsroom/bauschlomb-invests-90m-in-waterford Bausch + Lomb’s investment is expected to create 130 new jobs by 2023. In addition, about 150 additional workers will be needed for the construction phase of the expansion.

The expansion is part of Bausch + Lomb’s ongoing plans to increase its share in the global contact lens market. Back in 2018, the company made a similar move, expanding the manufacturing capacity at its sites in Waterford and Rochester, N.Y. by adding multiple production lines to support manufacturing of its daily disposable silicone hydrogel contact lenses.

Construction of that expansion at Waterford has been completed, and production of the company’s latest contact lenses, Bausch + Lomb INFUSE®, will start by the end of this year. The Waterford site currently employs more than 1,500 people.

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, TD, welcomed the news. “This decision reaffirms that commitment and is a great vote of confidence in Waterford and all it has to offer,” he says. “I wish all involved the very best with this new development and thank Bausch + Lomb for the continuing commitment to Ireland.”

Mark Hennessy, site lead, Bausch + Lomb, Waterford, said: “This latest investment will enable the Waterford facility to meet the growing demand for our very successful Biotrue ONEday® range of daily disposable contact lenses. The Biotrue lens was developed by the team in Waterford and supported by our commercial colleagues around the world, and it continues to grow in our U.S., European and Asian markets.

“We recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of the establishment of Bausch + Lomb Waterford, and the decision to make this significant investment in Waterford was influenced by our track record in providing high-quality products and excellent customer service to markets around the globe.”

Development capital

Meanwhile, other medical products companies have secured investment to grow. For instance, Vasorum, which makes specialist devices to close arterial punctures in vascular, cardiology, radiology and neuro-radiology procedures, secured a €6 million equity investment in February.

Dublin-based Vasorum received the money from venture capital firm BGF, which has taken a minority state in the business as a result.

Vasorum said the financial injection will be used to accelerate the rollout of its flagship Celt Arterial Closure Device in the US, as well as for developing new products.

Acquisitions

Irish medical products companies have also been acquisitive in recent months; for instance, DCC plc (www.dcc.ie) acquired Wörner Medizinprodukte Holding GmbH, a German company that supplies medical and laboratory products to the primary care sector in Germany and Switzerland for an initial €80 million.

The deal, announced in March, saw Wörner join the DCC Vital group, which is involved in selling, marketing and distributing medical products to the hospital, community and primary care sectors in Britain and Ireland. DCC’s purchase of Wörner gives the company a platform to expand DCC Vital’s broader activities into continental Europe, particularly in Germany, which is a large, well-funded and growing healthcare market.

“The acquisition of Wörner represents a significant scale-up of our primary care business and extends DCC Vital’s sales and marketing activities into Continental Europe for the first time,” said Donal Murphy, chief executive of DCC plc.

“DCC Vital is a key growth platform for DCC and has delivered strong organic growth in recent years in the sales and marketing of medical products across the primary care, community, and hospital sectors. DCC Vital will continue to build its business across Europe in the coming years and Wörner will provide an excellent platform for further acquisition activity, both in Germany, Europe’s largest healthcare market, and across the DACH region.”

Investing in Irish medical device companies

There are many reasons to invest in or acquire Irish medical device companies. The deals mentioned above show the current strength of the sector in Ireland and it is well-established and contributes significantly to Irish export values.

There are relatively few barriers to entry, and plenty of assistance available in the form of grants as well as assistance from academic with research and development.

Medical products is a sector that is growing worldwide, and there are no indications that this will slow in the short- to medium-term. Medical technology continues to advance at pace, with new products needed for new therapies.

Irish medical products businesses are well placed to capitalise on the growth in the sector, with companies well regarded around the world. Ireland is also part of the European Union, which means it has the advantage of frictionless trade with the other 26 members of the bloc, something its near neighbour the UK does not have anymore. As the only native English-speaking country in the EU now, it is an attractive destination for businesses in Canada, the US and the UK.

Malone & Co Accountants https://www.maloneaccountants.ie/ can assist clients in the medial sector on all the relevant aspects from fundraising to providing all ongoing tax, accounting and audit compliance support.

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