With Abbott Laboratories ( ABT - Get Report) allegedly resisting completing its $7.9 billion deal for Alere Inc. ( ALR) , it raises the question of what the effect might be on the healthcare giant's reputation from an M&A standpoint, or in other words, future acquisition attempts.
 
One case that could be made is that potential targets might want to think more carefully before striking a deal with the prolific buyer of diagnostic and device assets. On Tuesday, Sept. 6, for example, came a deal viewed by some as a lost opportunity for the Abbott Park, Ill., company.
 
Cepheid Inc. ( CPHD) , a point-of-care molecular testing company and an asset arguably of better quality than Alere, announced it had signed an agreement to be taken out by Danaher Corp.  ( DHR - Get Report) for $4 billion in cash and debt.
 
For a $61.6 billion-market cap company, is fighting the Alere deal worth it even if the problems facing the target warrant it? 

"Abbott needs to swallow their pride and put their buyer's remorse to bed and acquire [Alere] for $56 a share," Mark Massaro of Canaccord Genuity Inc. said. "Does [Alere] hurt them? Yes, it absolutely does."  

It was less than a couple of weeks ago that Alere, another provider of point-of-care diagnostics, revealed it was suing Abbott in the Delaware Court of Chancery in an effort to push the deal through. The Waltham, Mass., target is asking Delaware Vice Chancellor Sam Glasscock III for a September trial date, hoping to resolve the case by the end of the month.
 
Abbott's cash and debt deal for Alere was first announced on Feb. 1 and came just weeks before it announced a $30.7 billion deal for St. Jude Medical Inc. ( STJ) on April 28. 
 
The Alere situation likely won't stop Abbott from pursuing more M&A in the future because it needs to continue to bulk up—and especially in the devices space—if it wants to stay competitive, according to Debbie Wang of Morningstar Inc. Still, what it could imply is that potential acquisition candidates become more adamant about obtaining tighter parameters such as higher termination fees so that less risk is borne, she said. 

"I do think that some of the potential targets will probably want to think very carefully about how any potential deals are structured," Wang said. 
 
Indeed, in a redacted version of Alere's complaint that was made public on Aug. 30, the target alleged that at a meeting of the two companies' top executives on April 19, Abbott general counsel Hubert Allen offered Alere $30 million to $50 million to walk from the deal and threatened to find a way out of the transaction if Alere did not take the offer. According to the complaint, Allen said that "Abbott might simply run out the clock by failing to secure the necessary antitrust approvals" by the the drop-dead date. Alere alleged that the next day Abbott CEO and chairman Miles White said his company "would make life a 'living hell for everyone at Alere'" if the company did not take the offer.

While comments like these can't be good for Abbott from a reputation standpoint, Alere is a unique situation. To be fair, a company set to be acquired by Abbott that has nothing to hide probably wouldn't be too worried about the former pulling out.

From Abbott's standpoint, the Alere situation might also behoove management to think more carefully about what targets they go after and what sort of value could be derived, Wang added. Indeed, investors from the beginning have been wary about Abbott's play for Alere, "even before all the skeletons began falling out of the closet," Wang said.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-headquartered Cepheid, another provider of point-of-care diagnostics, arguably would have been a better play for Abbott. 
 
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While Cepheid has run into its own set of obstacles—having seen its stock tumble over the past year alongside delays in its GeneXpert Omni device and hyped up expectations amid a third CFO in less than two years—they aren't comparable to those that continue to weigh on Alere. 
 
Alere, on the other hand, has since early March faced a U.S. Department of Justice probe centered around whether it broke foreign bribery laws. Abbott had hoped to end the Alere deal in light of the ongoing government investigation and amid concerns about the delayed filing of its 2015 Form 10-K.
 
"Frankly, I don't know why Abbott didn't acquire Cepheid when they had the chance," Massaro said. "The reality was that Cepheid is and was a much better company than Alere." 
 
Hypothetically speaking, if Abbott, which many previously thought would ultimately buy Cepheid, threw in a rival bid of $55 a share—north of the $53 per share price in the Danaher deal—the target's CEO, John L. Bishop, likely would brush it off, Massaro said. 
 
Abbott's pending acquisition of Alere isn't alone in drawing controversy for the acquirer. 

In late August, short-seller Muddy Waters LLC attacked St. Jude, asserting its implanted heart devices were susceptible to cyberattacks. The firm's director of research, Carson Block, alleged "there is a strong possibility that close to half of STJ's revenue is about to disappear for approximately two years."

The device maker's CEO and president, Michael Rousseau, in two separate statements refuted the accusations, describing the claims as "irresponsible, misleading and unnecessarily frightening patients."

Assuming the successful completion of the St. Jude deal, Abbott will significantly up its standing from a cardiac devices standpoint. 

Its future M&A efforts, therefore, might be aimed in the orthopedic area, including a spinal treatment device company or a manufacturer of minimally invasive products that players such as a Boston Scientific Corp.  (BSX - Get Report) or C R. Bard Inc. (BCR) already make, Wang noted. Though it already encompasses a diabetes business, Abbott might also think about purchasing a pump technology company that would enhance existing operations, she added.

Abbott and Alere representative did not immediately return requests for comment.—David Marcus contributed to this report.

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