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Mena records deals worth $15.4 billion
June 6, 2018 | 2:44 PM
by Times News Service
The first quarter of 2018 saw inbound deal activity and value increase; however, both deal activity and value declined for outbound and domestic transactions. - Reuters file picture
 
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Muscat: Merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in the Mena region recorded 93 announced deals in the first quarter of 2018, a decline of 21.8 per cent compared to 119 deals in the first quarter of 2017, according to a new report.

The Ernst and Young's (EY’s) first quarter 2018 M&A report said that the total disclosed deal value in Mena also dropped by 26.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2018 to US$15.4 billion, compared to $21 billion in the first quarter of 2017. Of the transactions across the Mena region, the United Arab Emirates saw the highest deal value with $5.1 billion from 23 deals announced in the first quarter of this year.

The first quarter of 2018 saw inbound deal activity and value increase; however, both deal activity and value declined for outbound and domestic transactions. The announced number of inbound deals was 27, up by 42.1 per cent from the 19 deals announced in the first quarter of 2017. The inbound deal value increased by 138.7 per cent to $7.4 billion in the first quarter of 2018, up from $3.1 billion in the first quarter of 2017.

The number of outbound deals fell from 41 deals in the first quarter of 2017 to 29 deals in the first quarter of 2018, while the outbound deal value fell by 63.8 per cent. The Mena region also saw a decline in domestic deals as they fell from 59 announced deals in the first quarter of 2017 to 37 deals in the first quarter of 2018, with the domestic deal value falling by 28.2 per cent.



“Confidence in the economy remains strong, though Mena companies are taking a pause as rising inflation, market volatility, and high deal valuations have businesses looking to preserve capital rather than deploy it in the short term," Phil Gandier, MENA Transaction Advisory Services Leader, EY, said.

"In particular, companies in Saudi Arabia and Egypt are taking a wait-and-see approach. Last year, UAE companies dominated both inbound and outbound M&A activity and we expect the UAE to continue driving Mena deals in 2018,” he added.

Oil and gas deals

The sector with the highest deal value in the first quarter of 2018 was oil and gas, with an amount reaching $7.2 billion. The chemicals sector followed, with a deal value of $2.5 billion and the insurance sector had the third highest deal value at $1.2 billion. Rounding out the top five sectors by deal value in the first quarter of 2018 were provider care and technology, both with deal values of $1 billion.

“Although the deal volume has been modest in the first quarter of 2018, deal values relating to acquisition capital deployed in Mena in the first quarter of 2018 have reached their highest levels since 2001, with $10.2 billion invested in the region. The insurance, medical and education sectors have seen the highest allocation of acquisition capital,” Gandier said.

Portfolio transformation

Executives in the region are feeling optimistic about the Mena economy, with 98 per cent saying they see it as improving or stable, according to the latest EY Capital Confidence Barometer (CCB). Furthermore, 73 per cent of respondents expect the local M&A market to improve this year, with 37 per cent of executives actively pursuing mergers and acquisitions over the 12 months.

Almost 80 per cent of Mena boards are focusing on portfolio transformation over the next six months in an effort to become more agile and responsive to market volatility and better prepare their organisations for the future.

“Mena executives see portfolio transformation as a means to further strengthen their companies to achieve a long-term competitive advantage. While the majority of executives conduct portfolio reviews annually, an increasing number are undertaking reviews on a more continuous basis," Anil Menon, MENA M&A and Equity Capital Markets Leader, EY, said.

"More than a quarter of CCB respondents say they are reviewing their portfolios more frequently than they did three years ago, largely because of threats to their businesses from digitally-enabled competitors and start-ups, as well as the impact of digital technology on their business models. Saudi Arabia especially has been active in stepping up its portfolio reviews in recent years,” he added.

Overall, more stable geopolitics and favorable macro-economic situations have Mena executives anticipating more deal completions this year, compared to the 78 per cent of executives that either failed to complete or cancelled an acquisition last year.

“We can expect to see cross-border deal making to be an important theme over the next 12 months, as companies look to reallocate capital outside the region in pursuit of strategic opportunities,” Menon added.

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