Analysis: Smaller biotech firms to continue taking the lead on dealmaking in 2022


Syneos Health’s annual survey reveals the potential for shifts in the M&A space

Syneos Health, a biopharma clinical and commercial solutions organization, has released its 12th annual Dealmakers’ Intentions Survey. The analysis offers a review of biopharmaceutical dealmakers’ expectations for deal activity, supply and demand for specific assets in different development stages, pitfalls leading to deal failure and other factors that impact dealmaking.

This year, results suggest that important trends that began prior to Covid-19 will contribute to the buying and selling that occurs in 2022. Specifically, the survey notes that small companies will continue to take advantage of hot venture financing and IPO markets, which hit all-time highs in 2020 and 2021. With high market capitalizations and access to cash, these players will continue to propel dealmaking momentum more than large pharma companies, who have historically been the deal initiators.

Other key findings include:

  • Buyers and sellers alike generally expect a higher deal flow in 2022. Roughly 65% see growth in licensing and partnership deals, versus 44% who see an increase in outright acquisitions. Nearly as many buyers (42%) see growth in acquisitions with milestone-based payments or other “earn-outs.”
  • Many buyers foresee accelerated clinical development activity in 2022, which had slowed down during the pandemic.
  • Greater than 40% of dealmakers actively assess cell/gene therapy assets as part of their strategy, with gene replacement and mRNA-mediated therapies of particular interest to buyers.

“Many factors that propelled dealmaking and financing in 2021 will persist in the coming year. These include an anticipated high number of FDA approvals, a favorable US tax code and companies’ ability to access debt,” mentions Neel Patel, executive managing director, Commercial Advisory Group, Syneos Health Consulting. “The availability of capital and the roaring IPO markets are helping companies visualize the whole product development lifecycle.”

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