We’re not yet to the end of the first quarter, and we already have a solid idea of where M&A activity is headed in 2020.
Deloitte put out a report, The State of the Deal: M&A Trends 2020, based on a survey of 1,000 corporate executives and PE firms that looks back at what happened in 2019 and their views and plans for 2020. And the outlook is good for M&A, although there will be some key changes to keep in mind.
As noted in the report, M&A activity will continue to be very solid this year. Only 4% of those surveyed anticipate a decline in the number of deals. Sixty-three percent forecast an increase in transaction activity. That’s down from 79% last year.
There will probably not be as big an increase compared to the last seven years, a boom time that has seen more than $10 trillion in domestic deals alone since 2013. But that’s to be expected as this level of growth in transactions is hard to sustain.
As Russell Thomson, national managing partner of M&A services for Deloitte & Touche LLP put it in the report:
“We’re fairly long into this M&A boom cycle, so it’s not surprising to see a drop in expectations for larger deals. What we’re seeing in the marketplace is more interest in deals in the sweet spot between $100 million and $500 million. Deals aren’t going away; companies are just being a little more careful about those larger deals.”
So the boom is tapering off a bit, but it’s still a rising trend due to several factors, including…
But this is the biggest change we can expect in 2020:
The number of deals over $500M in transaction value will likely come down and be replaced by deals in the $100M – $500M range… and as low as $20M. This is for a variety of reasons.
When they add on new acquisitions, the firms can expect to sell those portfolio companies at a much higher multiple than before. This is why they are getting better returns with smaller targets.
Based on this Deloitte survey, it’s clear that M&A activity has slowed a bit but is still going strong, continuing a trend of an unprecedented level of deal-making that started back in 2013.
Also, on the rise: the use of Representations and Warranty (R&W) insurance to transfer indemnity risk away from the Seller to a third party – the insurer. With this coverage now available to sub-$20M deals, look for this insurance to be a part of an increasing number of deals in 2020.
Whether Buyer or Seller, R&W insurance coverage can offer many benefits including smoother negotiations, more cash at closing, and less risk. But it is important to have a broker with extensive experience with R&W insurance and how it can impact a M&A deal. If you’d like to discuss coverage for your next deal, please contact me, Patrick Stroth, at firstname.lastname@example.org.