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Are partnerships the new M&A? Cardinal Health corporate strategy EVP thinks so (Update)

Cardinal Health EVP Meghan Fitzgerald spoke with Evercore Managing Director Matthew McGaskin as part of a fireside chat at the StartUp Health Festival in San Francisco this week.

SUHFestival Evercore MD and Cardinal Health EVPAt this moment I can imagine at least a few face palms after reading a headline like that. But Meghan Fitzgerald, Corporate Strategy EVP with Cardinal Health, said it is a sensible option for risk averse companies that still want to benefit from innovative approaches to healthcare, and it’s a trend we should expect to see more of this year.

Fitzgerald made the comments as part of a fireside chat at the StartUp Health Festival with Matthew McAskin, Evercore Partners Senior Managing Director, against the backdrop of the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.

“Buying a company used to always be the solution, but buying a minority stake can be a [viable option]. Having a few partners means you don’t have to go it alone,” Fitzgerald said. One partner Fitzgerald referenced was CVS Health.

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Update In a tweet later in the day, Fitzgerald clarified that she did not mean to suggest that M&A is stopping or even slowing down.

It’s an interesting point from a company that has made so many acquisitions become the healthcare behemoth it is. Just last year it acquired naviHealth after buying a 71 percent stake in the business. But that deal also reflected a growing trend for the company of adding healthcare services.

In a year when consolidation in healthcare is widely anticipated, it will be interesting to see whether Fitzgerald’s assertion holds.