Denise Mann By Denise Mann

It’s hard to believe that the holiday season is once again upon us, yet the release of the new red Starbucks cups and the controversy surrounding them also makes it hard to ignore.

’Tis the season to ponder the past and look forward to the future. As evidenced by the reflective content in this issue, 2015 was a pretty dynamic year for the aesthetic industry. Undoubtedly, the biggest story of 2015 was and still is the pursuit of Allergan. This story played out (and is still playing out) on the business pages.

It started in 2014 when hedge fund manager William A. Ackman and Valeant Pharmaceuticals attempted a hostile takeover of the Botox maker. This first chapter in the saga ended with a surprise twist as Ireland’s Actavis swept in and acquired Allergan. Actavis took Allergan’s name, and is now one of the world’s largest drug makers by sales, offering a range of eye, skin, and stomach drugs. The new company is expected to make $23 billion in sales in 2016.

Most industry watchers thought this was “The End” and hopefully the beginning of “Happily Ever After,” but there’s at least one sequel. At press time, the Street was buzzing with excitement about a possible mega-merger between Pfizer and Allergan. Allergan shares jumped the day the news of a potential “friendly merger” broke.

It’s not a done deal yet, as considerable regulatory hurdles remain. Still, the deal, if struck by year end, would be the largest takeover of 2015.

In a sense, it’s a tale as old as time. Most compelling stories have a hero (Actavis, Pfizer), a beauty (Allergan), and a beast. Media reports are casting Valeant as the latter. Things have not been looking so sunny for Valeant since the failed takeover attempt. The company has been accused of price gouging and compared to Enron (which is never good).

At press time, a US judge ordered Valeant and Ackman to face an insider trading suit related to their Allergan bid. As a result of the drama, Valeant’s stock is at its lowest point in more than 2 years. The Wall Street Journal reported that Ackman sent an stern email to Valeant CEO J. Michael Pearson, stating that, “Your reputation is at grave risk. Valeant has become toxic.”

This story is likely far from over. It will certainly be interesting to see if the beast remains the beast in coming chapters, and if the beauty still shines bright. See you next year.