Baxter is a company undergoing a major transformation under CEO José “Joe” Almeida, who took the reins from longtime CEO Robert Parkinson Jr. early last year after leading Covidien through its $50 billion merger with Medtronic in 2015.
The Deerfield, Ill.–based company, which sells renal and medical products including pharmaceutical devices and acute renal care equipment, has spent the last year-and-a-half under Almeida’s guidance adjusting its corporate culture and its focus on innovation and invention.
“Culture will take the company to its top performance. And it can take a company down so fast. It’s all about leadership and the people that you have around the table leading the company. Strategies can be replicated, cultures can’t. Culture is your value as a company,” Almeida said last November at the annual Cleveland Clinic Medical Innovation Summit.
Almeida said that he has worked to shift the culture to reduce excessive internal over-analysis and improve employee independence, creating an environment where innovation can flourish.
“The part that separates most companies regarding innovation, those that truly get it, is the bridge between the invention and the innovation,” Almeida said. “The ability to create value in healthcare and access is quite significant.”
The transformation has been positive for the company, which Almeida said in June is positioned to pull the trigger on a massive acquisition worth up to $7.5 billion – as long as it’s the right company.
“We’re open to the tuck-ins, and we’re doing them, and we’re working very hard to get even more opportunities. We have a good pipeline in our pharmaceutical business between partnership and some tuck-ins and even in our advanced surgery, our biosurgery business,” Almeida said during the company’s first-quarter earnings call.
Though it hasn’t jumped on any acquisitions that large, the company did close a $625 million acquisition of Claris Lifesciences’ injectable drug business in July, including the company’s portfolio of injectable generics and 3 manufacturing plants.
Baxter also announced it inked a deal with Israel’s Tel Aviv University’s Ramot business segment, looking to bring early stage research technologies developed at the University to market.
The move is significant for Baxter, which Almeida said previously had no connections in the country.
“We did not have any contacts in Israel. You think about it. If you were a medtech and you don’t have a foot in Israel, you’re missing a big part of innovation,” Almeida said.
The company has strengthened its portfolio pipeline through other contracts as well, inking a collaborative deal with the Mayo Clinic in May with an initial focus on kidney disease.
Baxter is continuing to grow, getting leaner and meaner and looking to improve its portfolio, including its management in venture capital and financial returns.