Muscat: Seventy per cent of all Middle East deals were cross-border in nature during the third quarter of 2017, according to a latest report by global law firm Baker McKenzie.
Despite overall deal activity in the Middle East in the third quarter 2017 declining 10 per cent, compared with the previous quarter, cross-regional Merger and Acquisition (M&A) deal volumes rose 5 per cent and the value of domestic deals spiked 517 per cent from the second quarter 2017, driven by a Saudi Arabian mega deal (Kingdom Holding's $1.54 billion acquisition of Banque Saudi Fransi).
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) continued its momentum by being the top target country for inbound investment into the Middle East in terms of both volume and value in the third quarter of 2017, as well as the most dominant country by volume driving outbound deals.
“Strong economic fundamentals and ambitious growth strategies of countries, such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia continue to draw investors to the Middle East, despite macroeconomic uncertainties,” said Will Seivewright, Corporate/M&A partner at Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla, based in the UAE.
“The convergence of technology with traditional sectors, such as retail—exemplified by Amazon's acquisition of UAE's Souq.com—underlines the drive for innovation and demand for smart technology that is contributing heavily to deal activity in the region,” he added.
Inbound cross-regional Middle East M&A
Compared with the previous quarter, the volume of cross-regional M&A deals targeting the Middle East increased by 15 per cent in the third quarter of 2017. However, fewer mega deals meant that overall deal values halved in the third quarter of 2017, down to $630 million from $1.39 billion in the second quarter of 2017.
The UAE was the top target country for inbound investment, in terms of both volume and value in the third quarter of 2017, attracting 18 out of 23 deals, valued at $598 million. The United States was the top bidder country in terms of both volume and value, with six deals valued at $580 million into the region.
The financial services and industrials sectors were the busiest sectors for inbound Middle East M&A by volume in the third quarter of 2017, accounting for four deals each, while the retail sector led by deal value with $582 million worth of deals.
Outbound cross-regional Middle East M&A
The volume of outbound cross-regional deals from the Middle East remained steady in the third quarter of 2017, compared with the previous quarter (with 35 deals). However, there was a 49 per cent decline year-to-date, compared with 2016.
The UAE was the top bidder country by volume, driving half of the outbound deal activity with 18 of the 35 deals originating from the Middle East, followed by Bahrain with nine deals. Bahrain was the top bidder country by value, with deals amounting to $479 million, followed by Kuwait.
India and the United Kingdom were the top target countries for outbound M&A by deal volume, with four deals each, and the United States was the top target country by deal value, with $395 million worth of deals.
The top sector by volume for outbound M&A in the third quarter of 2017 was technology, with seven deals, and the top sector by value was the real-estate sector, with $350 million worth of deals.
Despite a challenging start to the year, global cross-border M&A demonstrated resilience to geopolitical influences, registering growth in major markets in the third quarter of 2017. However, domestic and cross-border activity in the Middle East declined from the previous quarter, according to the Baker McKenzie report.
Globally, the United States was both the most acquisitive and the top targeted region, with 484 inbound deals valued at $50 billion and 536 outbound deals valued at $79.4 billion. In Europe, although cross-border activity involving the United Kingdom slowed in the third quarter resulting in a decrease, in both volume and value, and year-to-date deal value up 44 per cent, compared with 2016. In Asia, China outbound deal value increased 44 per cent from second quarter 2017, while Japan cross-border deal value (inbound and outbound) doubled from the previous quarter.