Noted: UBS sees 15% M&A rebound next year

November 2, 2009

Like SocGen before them, UBS strategists are looking forward to a pickup in M&A next year. ubs-ma-as-percentage-of-global-market-cap

From a note published on Monday:

“We expect 2009 to mark the trough in global M&A transactions and for activity to pick up in 2010 and beyond. For FY2010, globally we expect M&A activity in the region of $2.5-2.7trl, an increase of 15% on current annualised run rate for 2009 and close to levels last seen in mid 2004-05. The biggest driver of an increase in activity is likely to be the increase in risk appetite in equity markets and in the boardroom, a return to earnings growth and profitability by World Inc and a backlog of pending asset disposals.”

“Credit conditions are also supportive and we expect private equity and bank lending to pick up at some point next year.”

“We do think investors can take advantage of the growing interest in M&A as the likelihood of deals gets priced into stocks. The average take-out premium historically has been 30-40%, much of which is earned around the announcement of a deal. Merger arbitrage post bid announcement has earned a levered IRR around of 9% this year.”

“Despite a 27% decline in global M&A activity in 2009, deal volumes in Asia remained strong. At the current run rate, 2009 activity in the region will be up on 2008, taking APAC’s share of global M&A to 25%, from 6% in 1995. A meaningful pick-up in global activity in 2010 will require a rebound from trough deal volumes this year in the Americas and Europe.”

“M&A activity could be especially prevalent in the Financials and Healthcare sector due to the shock of increased regulation affecting their industry dynamics. The Healthcare sector, along with Technology is one of the best placed sectors from a balance sheet point of view too, generating high free cash flow and with limited debt on the balance sheet (or net cash in the case of Tech). Asset disposals at the Industrials and Materials sectors could be a theme if excess capacity pressures intensify.”

Despite a dismal couple of years for M&A, the strategists also say there has been a longer-term shift to a higher “natural rate” of mergers than in previous eras (see graph), as dealmaking benefits from globalisation, deregulation, privatisation and the development of financing markets.

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