There’s no shortage of ink spilled over the feeding frenzy over Guidant Corp., which ended in Boston Scientific Corp.’s (NYSE:BSX) ill-fated $26 billion acquisition in 2006. But there’s one nugget from the spectacle that hasn’t received much attention.
The prelude to that deal, a bidding war between Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and Boston Scientific, sent the already fierce rivalry between the firms to new heights. But the deal also involved a third party, Abbott (NYSE:ABT), which snapped up Guidant’s stent-making business to mollify U.S. anti-trust regulators.
In an exclusive interview with MassDevice.com, his first and only since leaving the corner office, former Medtronic CEO Bill Hawkins told us that he has few regrets from his 10-year tenure at the world’s largest pure-play device maker.
“I’m very proud of what I accomplished at Medtronic. I’ve thought a lot about it, what would I have done differently, and there are not a lot of things that I would have done differently,” Hawkins told us.
But there is one thing that, even today, he can’t help wonder about: The chance to become the fourth player in the scenario. Calling Guidant “the fish that got away,” Hawkins said he wonders now what the med-tech landscape would look like if he’d made a move back then.
“There was a possibility for us to have done something with that,” Hawkins explained. “It was actually right prior to when I was a CEO when Guidant was in play. We were at that early phase of building our own drug-eluting stent program and there was an opportunity there.”
That chance came after Johnson & Johnson’s initial offer for Guidant fell apart and Boston Scientific entered the fray.
“Boston interloped and it was clear they couldn’t do it alone, they needed a partner,” Hawkins recalled.
Medtronic could have been that partner, not Abbott, a move that he can’t help wonder about even today.
“In some respects, maybe preventing Abbott from becoming a major player in the device sector and the landscape, maybe, would have been different today,” he said.