M&A activity in the global chemicals industry is expected to decline slightly in 2019 in the face of ongoing uncertainty, according to Deloitte’s 2019 Global Chemical Industry Mergers and Acquisitions Outlook.
The report suggests that rising interest rates, trade tensions and slowing economic growth will impact M&A activity in the sector, though the market will remain robust.
Global M&A volume in the chemicals space reached 600 deals in 2018, a decline of 5 percent compared to 2017, but total M&A value was still higher than in each of the years from 2010 to 2013. The value of M&A in the global chemicals industry rebounded to $72.4bn in 2018, up from $46.4bn in 2017.
The first quarter of 2018 was slow, although deal volume increased in each successive quarter in 2018, and deal values were also strong, with billion dollar-deals increasing in both quantity and value throughout the year.
Deloitte expects 2019 to be a challenging year, with growth in industrial production down and protectionism on the rise in many developed economies. However, the emergence of digitalisation is expected to transform the global chemicals industry and create additional M&A activity in the future.
“In 2019, we expect a modest decline in chemical industry M&A activity, but as demonstrated in the past, activity should still be strong despite global uncertainty,” says Dan Schweller, Deloitte Global M&A leader for the chemicals and specialty materials sector. “Underlying conditions for a strong M&A market remain intact – ample cash on-hand for buyers, availability of relatively cheap credit, and the desire to increase ROI for investors.
“Protectionism and trade concerns are weighing heavily on companies and global regulators continue to heavily scrutinize deals,” he continued. “As a result, we may see hesitancy towards cross-border M&A deals. However, the equity market declined in the fourth quarter, which may make high deal valuations – a limiting factor for M&A in 2018 – more palatable to investors moving forward.”