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Searching for innovations ? the technological determinants of acquisitions in the pharmaceutical industry



This article analyzes the individual determinants of acquisition activity and target choices in the pharmaceutical industry over the period 1978-2002. The "innovation gap" hypothesis states that acquiring firms lack promising drug compounds and acquire firms with more promising drug prospects. A duration model implemented over a panel of more than 400 firms relates the probabilities of being an purchaser or a target to financial, R&D ant patent data to investigate this explanation more deeply. Results show that purchasers are firms with a lower Tobin's Q and decreasing sales, which could indicate that acquisitions are used to compensate for low internal growth prospects. Firms with a higher proportion of radical patents in their portfolio, especially in pharmaceutical and biothechnological patent classes, face a higher probability of being targeted, indicating that acquiring firms are indeed searching for innovative competencies. However, acquiring firms also present a significant absorptive capacity : their R&D investment increases in the year preceding the operation and their patent stock is larger and more diversified than for non-acquiring firms. Finally, we observe that over the last ten years of the sample period, firms have paid a greater attention to the size of the target's portfolio.

Suggested Citation

  • Gautier Duflos & Etienne Pfister, 2008. "Searching for innovations ? the technological determinants of acquisitions in the pharmaceutical industry," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne bla08057, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
  • Handle: RePEc:mse:cesdoc:bla08057

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    Cited by:

    1. Santosh K. Sahu & Nitika Agarwal, 2015. "Mergers and Acquisitions in the Indian Pharmaceutical Sector," Working Papers 2015-122, Madras School of Economics,Chennai,India.

    More about this item


    M&A; pharmaceutical; innovations; patent citations.;

    JEL classification:

    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • L21 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Business Objectives of the Firm
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

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