BY Richard Summerfield
Strong headwinds in the oil & gas markets and wider global economic uncertainty have made a significant impact on deal making over the last two years. Indeed, mergers and acquisitions activity in the US oil & gas industry plummeted to its lowest fourth quarter period in five years, according to a new report from PwC.
PwC’s Q4 Oil & Gas Deals Analysis noted that Q4 2015 saw 42 deals in the oil & gas space with values of $50m and above. Those deals recorded in the final quarter of last year were worth $31.6bn. The previous year saw 70 deals worth $103.4bn during the same period. 2015 saw a 69 percent decline in total deal value year on year.
Doug Meier, PwC’s US Oil & Gas Sector Deals Leader, said, “Accelerating declines in oil and gas prices coupled with the closing of the capital markets for oil and gas companies during the second half of 2015 drove management teams to focus on cash preservation. As oil prices stay lower for longer, cash flow will stay constrained resulting in companies operating in survival mode with a focus on realigning their strategies and business models. This internal focus resulted in a steady decline in oil and gas deal activity leading to the lowest fourth quarter in five years, a period that is typically strong for oil and gas deals.
"While the headlines appear depressing, deal-making opportunities exist for companies with dry powder and who are willing to use their equity as currency for doing deals. Looking at the subsectors, midstream companies, including MLPs, were hit with a devastating left-right combination of dramatically lower stock (unit) prices and closed capital markets, resulting in a precipitous decline in the fourth quarter midstream deal activity," he added.
The difficulties seen in deal making in the US in Q4 were experienced the world over last year, according to PwC’s data. In 2015, worldwide power and renewables deal value reached $199bn, a decline of 16 percent from the $236.2bn recorded in 2014. However, in spite of this decline, renewable activity boomed in 2015, nearly doubling year on year from $28.3bn in 2014 to $55.3bn in 2015. Renewables’ share of deal value rose from12 percent in 2014 to 28 percent in 2015.
Europe and the Asia-Pacific region were the most popular locations in terms of number, by both bidder and target in 2015, with 313 and 318 deals in each region respectively. The US led the field on total deal value.
Looking ahead, PwC expects Europe to be a strong focus of activity in 2016 as the region continues to provide the highest volume of global power and renewable deal activity, although deal numbers and value dipped in 2015.