While the deal will allow Medtronic to reduce its overall global tax
burden, the Minneapolis-based company said it was driven by a
complementary strategy with Covidien on medical technology rather
than tax considerations
"The real purpose of this, in the end, is strategic, both in the
intermediate term and the long term," Medtronic Chief Executive Omar
Ishrak said in an interview after the deal was announced. "It is
good for the U.S. in that we will make more investment in U.S.
technologies, which previously we could not."
Medtronic's corporate tax rate, now at around 18 percent, won't
change much, Ishrak said.
The merger of Medtronic, the world's largest stand-alone medical
device maker, and Covidien, a maker of devices used in a range of
surgical procedures, will create a close competitor in size to the
medical device business of industry leader Johnson & Johnson Co <JNJ.N>.
It broadens Medtronic's scope beyond its array of heart devices,
spinal implants, insulin pumps and other products into areas such as
weight-loss surgery and laparoscopic procedures. The expansion
should allow it to better compete for business from hospitals,
particularly in the United States where healthcare reform efforts
and shrinking government reimbursement for medical procedures has
kept pressure on device pricing.
The disparate businesses means there should not be significant
antitrust concerns, industry analysts said.
"Beyond the financial rationale, the company expands dramatically,
and it puts them in a whole bunch of areas they never were in
before. It makes sense," said Jefferies analyst Raj Denhoy.
Denhoy estimated the deal would shave 2 to 3 percentage points off
the company's corporate tax rate, pointing to Covidien's rate of 16
The deal values each Covidien share at $93.22, paid for by $35.19 in
cash and 0.956 Medtronic shares. The transaction represents a 29
percent premium to Covidien's closing stock price on Friday,
The combination, which will leave Covidien shareholders owning about
30 percent of the combined company, is expected to result in at
least $850 million of annual pre-tax cost synergies by the end of
fiscal year 2018. Medtronic said it would keep its operational
headquarters in Minneapolis and pledged $10 billion in U.S.
technology investments over the next 10 years.
Acquisitions of companies aimed at lowering corporate tax rates,
known as inversions, have historically been rare but are becoming
[to top of second column]
Some U.S. lawmakers are concerned that the deals erode government
revenue by giving corporations another tax-avoiding loophole. Two
bills in the U.S. Congress and a White House proposal would make
inversions harder to do, but neither has gained much traction. That
could change if another major U.S. company or two tried to conduct
inversions, tax lawyers and analysts said last week.
Two recently attempted inversions failed, but only after they
refocused political attention on the strategy. U.S.-based Pfizer
Inc's <PFE.N> bid for rival British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc <AZN.L>
was rejected, while the proposed combination of U.S. advertising
firm Omnicom Group Inc <OMC.N> with France's Publicis Groupe SA <PUBP.PA>
collapsed for non-tax-related reasons.
Democrats in Congress have called for new restrictions on these
deals, with bills offered by Senator Carl Levin and his brother,
Representative Sander Levin, both Michigan Democrats. President
Barack Obama has a proposal similar to the Levinsí. Republicans have
expressed concern about inversions, but have not put forward
legislation of their own.
Some lawmakers have said that anti-inversion curbs should be tackled
as part of a comprehensive overhaul of the loophole-riddled U.S. tax
code, but this is a difficult project that Congress has not tackled
Medtronic's deal with Covidien is expected to close in the fourth
quarter of 2014 or early 2015, Medtronic said.
Perella Weinberg Partners LP, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
and A & L Goodbody advised Medtronic, while Goldman Sachs & Co <GS.N>
and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Arthur Cox advised Covidien.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch <BAC.N> provided committed financing
for the transaction.
(Reporting by Susan Kelly in Chicago and Greg Roumeliotis in New
York; Additional reporting by Kevin Drawbaugh in Washington, D.C.;
Editing by Michele Gershberg, Dan Grebler and Eric Walsh)
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