Healthcare holds its own amid a tepid deal market, reaching $60 billion in announced deal value

The healthcare sector continued to be a hub of private equity (PE) deal activity in 2023, reaching $60 billion in announced deal value, despite higher global interest rates, inflationary pressures, and broader geopolitical uncertainty. Biopharma captured the bulk of dealmaking momentum, attributing for 48% of global deal value, including six deals in excess of $2 billion. In 2024, investors will continue to bet on the transformative nature of generative AI; new modalities and innovative therapies, such as glucagon-like peptide-1 agonists (GLP-1s); and India as a place to deploy healthcare capital at scale.

These are among the findings of Bain & Company’s 13th annual Global Healthcare Private Equity and M&A report, published today.

“Compared to private equity dealmaking globally, we saw relative resilience in healthcare dealmaking last year,” said Kara Murphy, co-lead of Healthcare Private Equity at Bain & Company. “We suspect 2024 will be a year of playing catch up, as buyers and sellers work toward bridging the valuation gap. Innovation and technology will continue to be at the forefront of investment themes across the value chain. Investors should carefully consider the evolving role of AI, the impacts of GLP-1, and the growth of value-based care on their portfolio companies and new investments.”

Regional perspectives: India’s age of healthcare is here
In the Asia-Pacific region, announced deal value reached around $14 billion. Investors seeking to manage geopolitical risk began to broaden their horizons, with India representing the largest share of announced deal value and continuing to see a long-term rise in biopharma-related activity. The nation is expected to host 22 healthcare deals in 2023, with deal value reaching $4.6 billion, just below the $4.7 billion in 2022. India’s economic growth, business-friendly government, pharmaceuticals manufacturing landscape, and thriving middle class continue to propel investment.

Within North America, 2023 deal values landed around $29 billion, with biopharma accounting for 25% of deal activity and 54% of deal value. Activity in provider businesses, which historically account for a large share of US deals, slowed due to inflationary and labor market pressures. Nonetheless, several provider deals closed across specialties such as oncology, orthopedics, and cardiology with the opportunity to drive ancillary expansions relatively insulated from broader healthcare and macroeconomic pressures.

In Europe, announced deal value fell approximately 44% year over year from $25 billion in 2022 to $14 billion in 2023. Constrained credit markets and continued disruption from labor and cost inflation dampened activity in the retail health and provider sectors. Europe also saw several announced processes that did not result in a transaction, as buyers and sellers failed to align on valuations.

“Despite the slower start to 2023, we see green shoots in the buyout market,” said Nirad Jain, co-lead of Healthcare Private Equity at Bain & Company. “In 2024, sponsors will need to establish higher confidence in value creation opportunities earlier and think beyond pure commercial diligence. Successful investors will evaluate a wider set of factors early in their process to create value quickly.”

Looking ahead to 2024
Across regions, investors will keep a few common themes in mind.

  • Generative AI to transform the healthcare sector. Generative AI promises to drive significant productivity gains, improve patient and provider experience, lower administrative costs, speed biomedical research and drug development, and help develop next-generation diagnostic equipment. Big technology companies are partnering with healthcare organizations to apply generative AI, and investors are deploying capital in nascent companies built around the tool. Bain found that about half of the top 20 biopharmaceutical firms published press releases about generative AI in 2023.

    While traditional, analytical AI has been used in healthcare for many years, generative AI is distinguished by its ability to create new content, summarize and translate existing content, and, ultimately, to “reason and plan.” Among investors, venture capital and growth equity funds have been deploying capital in companies built around generative AI as a core competency. Investors need to consider generative AI’s disruptive potential on portfolio companies and new investments and identify opportunities to take advantage of the technology.
  • Healthcare IT provides attractive upside potential with lower downside risk. Despite deal volume dropping around 23% from 2022 and buyout activity slowing, healthcare information technology (HCIT) continues to attract investment due to its ability to drive innovation and offset macro factors such as inflation, labor shortages, and reimbursement headwinds.

    Excitement around digitalization, following the outbreak of Covid-19, resulted in a slew of portfolio companies still early in their holding periods. Despite the decline in transactions, HCIT represents 10% of healthcare sector deal volume, seeing sizeable deals in 2023. Looking ahead, providers will prioritize increasing their returns on investment, with revenue cycle management, clinical workflow optimization, and patient engagement as top priorities for new investments.
  • Life sciences: navigating the demand for glucagon-like peptide-1 agonists (GLP-1s). Sales in the GLP-1 class of medications surged in 2023. Looking ahead, three implications confront PE investors, given the potential market for these drugs. First, demand for inputs or services supporting the manufacturing of GLP-1 therapies will likely increase. Second, an expanded ecosystem to support patients will be needed, including services to identify, qualify, and enroll eligible patients, as well as physical or digital health platforms to support patients on these therapies. Finally, investments with business models based on high rates of obesity could see long term growth projections decline.

Editor’s Note: For more information or interview requests please contact Katie Ware at [email protected] or +1 646 562 8107.

About Bain & Company  
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Across 65 cities in 40 countries, we work alongside our clients as one team with a shared ambition to achieve extraordinary results, outperform the competition, and redefine industries. We complement our tailored, integrated expertise with a vibrant ecosystem of digital innovators to deliver better, faster, and more enduring outcomes. Our 10-year commitment to invest more than $1 billion in pro bono services brings our talent, expertise, and insight to organizations tackling today’s urgent challenges in education, racial equity, social justice, economic development, and the environment. We earned a platinum rating from EcoVadis, the leading platform for environmental, social, and ethical performance ratings for global supply chains, putting us in the top 1% of all companies. Since our founding in 1973, we have measured our success by the success of our clients, and we proudly maintain the highest level of client advocacy in the industry.

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