Pandemic recovery fuels deal craze as third-quarter M&A breaks all records By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Merchants work on the buying and selling ground of Barclays Financial institution at Canary Wharf in London, Britain December 7, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/File Picture

By Pamela Barbaglia and Anirban Sen

LONDON (Reuters) – International mergers and acquisitions hit new document highs within the third quarter as firms and buyers formed their post-COVID future by transformative offers whereas their advisers struggled to deal with transaction volumes by no means seen earlier than.

A frantic summer time of merger exercise produced offers value $1.52 trillion within the three months to Sept. 27, up 38% from the identical quarter final yr and greater than some other quarter on document, in keeping with Refinitiv knowledge.

Third-quarter volumes drove world M&A exercise within the first 9 months of 2021 to an unprecedented document of $4.33 trillion, overtaking an all-time annual peak of $4.1 trillion hit earlier than the monetary disaster in 2007 and forcing funding banks to hike pay for overworked and disgruntled junior employees.

“The trail to restoration is more and more clear and individuals are wanting past COVID,” stated Birger Berendes who co-heads M&A in EMEA at Financial institution of America (NYSE:).

“Traders are flush with money and need firms to search for acquisitions in areas the place they should develop or add capabilities and companies slightly than simply paying dividends or shopping for again shares.”

Third-quarter volumes doubled in Europe with $473 billion value of M&A offers in contrast with the identical quarter final yr whereas america was up 32% to $581 billion and Asia Pacific rose 21% to $365 billion.

“M&A is a confidence sport. Each corporates and sponsors really feel superb concerning the present atmosphere and that is why they’re aggressively pursuing alternatives earlier than there’s a market correction,” stated Dirk Albersmeier, world co-head of M&A at JPMorgan (NYSE:).

“Traders are delicate about components like inflation, rate of interest developments and elevated regulatory scrutiny,” he added.

Whereas U.S. President Joe Biden’s upcoming tax reforms are prone to improve the price of doing offers, prime M&A bankers stated they don’t count on a slowdown in deal-making within the close to time period.

“The brand new tax coverage isn’t even a dialogue level. Not impacting offers, in any way – most likely a mirrored image on how folks really feel concerning the probability that it is going to come into fruition subsequent yr,” stated Mark Bekheit, an M&A accomplice at legislation agency Latham & Watkins LLP.

Whereas the marketplace for blank-cheque firms has confronted headwinds, a $32.6 billion SPAC deal led by Lionheart Acquisition Corp II for U.S. agency MSP Restoration topped up the quarterly charts.

Different sizable offers embrace Sq.’s $29 billion takeover of Afterpay, Vivendi (OTC:)’s spinoff of Common Music Group (AS:) and an 18.4 billion-pound swoop by U.S. sports activities betting agency DraftKings (NASDAQ:) on Ladbrokes (LON:) proprietor Entain.


Progress made by Western economies to vaccinate their grownup inhabitants and the easing of COVID restrictions throughout the summer time fuelled animal spirits with bidding wars erupting amongst non-public fairness companies for management of listed firms together with British grocery store group Morrisons.

Non-public fairness buyouts surged 133% to $818 billion within the first 9 months of the yr as funding companies rushed to deploy money, usually paying wealthy costs to take property off the general public markets.

Bankers say non-public fairness companies have learnt methods to calculate danger after the monetary crises.

“There’s a clear recognition that valuations are very excessive in the mean time. Funds are pursuing alternatives the place they’ve conviction they will add worth,” stated Anna Skoglund, head of Goldman Sachs (NYSE:)’ monetary and strategic investor group in EMEA.

“We now have moved away from opportunistic, extra financially pushed transactions to thematic investing and platform constructing.”

The purchasing spree is predicted to proceed because the Federal Reserve’s bond-buying programme has helped push rates of interest to all-time lows, providing low cost debt-financing to would-be acquirers.

“The rationale is fairly easy – we’re actually awash in liquidity,” stated Mark Shafir, world co-head of M&A at Citigroup (NYSE:).

“You have acquired an extremely hospitable fixed-income market when it comes to charges and availability. So there’s loads of alternative to do offers.”


Deal-making surged in most sectors of the economic system, particularly the expertise trade – the place software program offers greater than tripled within the first 9 months of the yr – in addition to vitality and energy with firms accelerating their transfer into renewables initiatives as a part of their transition to a net-zero future.

Dealmakers say that whereas fastidiously pondering danger, company consumers have grow to be extra nimble to reap the benefits of alternatives and higher compete with non-public fairness in fast-paced auctions.

“Boards proceed to evaluate a number of choices to implement their strategic aims. Purchasers are being very considerate about utilizing M&A to speed up their technique the place they see the chance to take action,” stated Omar Faruqui, co-head of EMEA M&A at Barclays (LON:).

As the specter of activist shareholders resurfaces, bankers say the pipeline forward can even embrace spinoffs to unlock worth trapped in worthwhile items and reap the benefits of buoyant inventory markets.

Activist funds are fastidiously watching how firms are navigating the challenges of adjusting their enterprise fashions to the post-COVID world and will likely be a key consider driving change.

“Market dislocations trigger a decline in activism. Not surprisingly, when the pandemic hit you noticed an actual pullback,” stated Morgan Stanley (NYSE:)’s David Rosewater, a managing director of the activist protection group.

“Because the market got here again, you noticed activism come again and reward extra alternatives.”

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