I would generally view these surveys with a modicum of skepticism, as the authors (here, The Boston Consulting Group) usually have a stake in the survey conclusions. But, given that they did widely poll biotech deal-doers, I think they are reporting a real effect, not just an imagined one. [Some of the tech involved in Merck's SmartCells deal is imaged at right -- click to read about it.] In any event, here is a bit of InVivo's reporting on it -- do go read it all:
. . . .Two companies that can pat themselves on the back? Roche and Merck & Co., who took home top honors as best partners in a recent survey of biotech execs published by the Boston Consulting Group. . . .
Ranked as a percentage of responders that agreed a company exhibited particular criteria, Roche struck gold in four categories, as the company is most associated with deal structure flexibility, executive leadership, alliance management, and manufacturing expertise. Merck led in five categories: responsiveness, BD/licensing group access, therapeutic areas of interest (tied with Novartis), control over development, and ‘develop and prosper,’ a metric related to post-deal success. . . .
Of course, one must remember that the survey's publisher is forever on the lookout for advisory roles on many such potential deal-makings -- so there is a powerful incentive to flatter all the counter-parties with the deepest pockets.
And Merck clearly has 'em. Even so, I still think the overall sense of the survey is accurate -- New Merck is a biotech deal-doing leader.
[I gave some additional credence to the survey, because it accurately captured one long rumored Pfizer-trait -- in deal-doing circles -- the propensity to overpay. That is spot on, from my experience (though to be fair -- much of it amounts to a rounding error, when one's balance sheet is the size of Pfizer's). As I say, do go read InVivo, this morning.]