Geopolitical uncertainty and buoyant M&A can coexist, says new report

BY Fraser Tennant

Despite ongoing geopolitical uncertainties, companies are continuing to greenlight mergers & acquisitions (M&A) deals in the search for growth, according to EY’s new Global Capital Confidence Barometer.

The Barometer, while recognising that geopolitical concerns are a mainstay feature of the boardroom, notes that such issues are being overshadowed by more immediate and pressing risks and opportunities, with boards increasingly focusing on countermeasures against technological disruption and seizing new routes to growth - countermeasures that often involve M&A transactions.

As a consequence of this focus, the M&A market is currently a healthy environment, with dealmakers expecting further activity in the year ahead.

Among the Barometer’s key findings: (i) 56 percent of companies intend to acquire in the next year; (ii) 73 percent have increased the frequency of the portfolio review process; (iii) 69 percent cite a broad range of geopolitical or emerging policy concerns as the greatest risk to business; (iv) 79 percent of US executives actively plan to pursue deals; (v) 64 percent are looking at cross-border deals to secure market access and grow their customer base; and (vi) 90 percent expect their pipeline to increase or remain stable.

EY also reveals that 97 percent of senior executives expect corporate earnings to accelerate or remain stable, while 64 percent believe that the global economy will improve, despite today’s heightened geopolitical uncertainties.

“While technology and digital disruption are major drivers of the current market, other considerations are also spurring deal activity,” said Steve Krouskos, global vice chair of transaction advisory services at EY. “Geographical expansion to secure supply chains and increase customer reach will accelerate cross-border M&A. Private equity is returning to replenishing mode. Lastly, corporates are increasingly reassessing and reshaping their portfolios, creating a natural pipeline of deal opportunities.”

Sceptics, however, maintain that heightened levels of deal activity are leading to too many bad deals being pursued, a claim that Mr Krouskos dismisses, stating that this is not the case in today’s M&A market. “Companies are using advanced analytics, combined with data-driven diligence and integration, to target the right deals and integrate them in the right way,” he says.

So, can heightened geopolitical uncertainties and buoyant M&A coexist? The answer, says EY, is a resounding yes.

Report: Global Capital Confidence Barometer - Can complex geopolitical uncertainty and record M&A coexist?

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