News: Top five M&A trends over the last ten years

Employee Relations

Top five M&A trends over the last ten years

Data shows that companies that were disciplined acquirers consistently outperformed those that stayed away from deals.
Top five M&A trends over the last ten years

M&A deal-making has delivered superior shareholder returns during the last decade, according to global M&A data compiled by Willis Towers Watson’s Quarterly Deal Performance Monitor (QDPM). Based on share price performance, companies actively engaged in M&A deals (valued at over $100 million) from 2008 to 2018 outperformed the market2 by an average of 3.1pp (percentage points), demonstrating M&A as an effective tool for adding value.

Jana Mercereau, Senior Director in Willis Towers Watson’s Mergers and Acquisitions team, said, “Some business leaders argue that organic growth is better than buying growth, but the track record of the last decade should make companies question this conventional view. Our data shows that companies that were disciplined acquirers consistently outperformed those that stayed away from deals. M&A, in short, has been a successful strategy for profitable growth.”

The five biggest trends over the last ten years, according to the Willis Towers Watson global study in partnership with Cass Business School, have been:

Bigger is Better-  Mega deals, those valued at over $10bn, beat the index by 4.3pp, while large deals valued at over $1bn outperformed by 2.9pp. But medium deals ($100m-$1bn) only performed a marginal 0.1pp above the index. The biggest blockbuster deals are usually pursued by companies with significant M&A experience, which is likely to explain why they are more adept at delivering the biggest rewards for shareholders.

The rise of China. Chinese M&A activity reached historic highs in the last decade and doubled its market share, rising from $24.9 billion or 3.5% of the global M&A market in 2008 to $57.5 billion or 7.2% in 2018. Despite government restrictions on capital outflows and rising protectionism, Chinese outbound investment is still expected to reach further highs over the next decade.

The UK shrugs off Brexit- UK-headquartered firms have consistently beaten the European index by 3.7pp and have maintained this performance level despite the country’s looming departure from the EU. The UK also remains Europe’s investment destination of choice thanks to a number of factors including its skilled labour force, political and economic stability, and market size.

Regional winners and losers-European dealmakers, as well as outperforming non-acquirers in their own region by 3.7pp, have been far more consistent than any other region, delivering on average a positive shareholder return in nine out of the last ten years. In contrast, US-based acquirers outperformed their regional index by just 1.5pp. A 10-year rolling average performance of 8.3pp keeps Asia-Pacific companies in pole position, but roller-coaster swings in the region have seen acquirers failing to add value for the last seven quarters in a row.

Industry winners and losers- Compared to other industries, Telecoms and Technology companies completing M&A transactions performed the worst by actually destroying value over the last ten years, with underperformances of 1.5pp and 0.5pp respectively. Acquirers in the Materials and Consumer Staples markets delivered the strongest returns of 5.6pp and 5.3pp over the same period.

Jana Mercereau, said, “Our analysis suggests that companies will need to focus more on inorganic growth to meet their investors’ expectations. And, just as we have seen in the last decade, the winners will be those who get in the game and learn how to play it well.”


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Topics: Employee Relations, #MergersAndAcquisitions

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