Power and utilities M&A hit $200bn in 2017, reveals new report

BY Fraser Tennant

Mergers & acquisitions (M&A) in the power and utilities sector reached an eight-year high in 2017, seeing 516 deals with a total value of $200.2bn, according to a new report by EY.

In its ‘Power transactions and trends: 2017 review and 2018 outlook’, EY reveals that 2017 saw a 57 percent year-on-year rise in renewables deal value to $42.8b globally, with the US particularly strong – up 71 percent compared to 2016.

Indeed, renewable energy tops the growth agenda in the Americas, with US deal value reaching $102.2bn – the highest recorded level of global investment. Furthermore, networks represented $29.4bn of total Americas deal value, while $28.4bn was attributable to integrated assets, $24bn to generation and $14.2bn to renewables.

“In the Americas, 2017 was marked by three investment themes,” said Matt Rennie, EY global power & utilities transactions leader. “Network assets continued to be highly attractive to investors seeking yield in a low interest rate environment, renewable energy investment activity remained strong, driven in part by ongoing support at state level and investments in energy technology start-ups continued to gain prominence – particularly on the west coast of the US.”

The EY report also notes that investors are continuing to look to yield investments for long-term, stable returns amid low interest rates and excess capital.

“2017 was a formative year in power and utilities transactional activity,” continues Mr Rennie. “Investments in the conventional energy sector were dominated by the changing generation mix, as renewable energy continued to account for an increasing proportion of the system, and low interest rates again drove yield capital toward regulated networks.”

According to EY, last year also saw a resurgence in M&A involving independent power producers (IPP), particularly in Europe and the US, where IPP deals more than doubled in value – from $15.2bn to $33bn year-on-year. In addition, over the last two years, new energy-focused start-ups raised $746m of funding (series A and B), of which $253m was focused on energy services.

In terms of European deal value, 2017 was similar to 2016 levels, an 11 percent increase in volume to 213 deals. Renewables contributed 30 percent of total deal value, with networks accounting for 27 percent and generation 26 percent. In Asia-Pacific, renewables deal value grew 72 percent year-on-year to $13.5bn.

Mr Rennie concludes: “We also saw the new energy market continue to grow in both scale and importance. As technology companies increasingly become a mainstream contingent within the electricity system, we expect them to focus on arbitraging network peaks and to focus on the long-term needs of a decentralised future energy market.”

Report: Power transactions and trends: 2017 review and 2018 outlook

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