EEL Events have been working with Mazars on our upcoming SEE Private Equity and M&A Forum conference, taking place on the 29-30 October 2020. Mazars has been sponsoring and speaking at the event.
We have spoken with Razvan Butucaru, Partner, Financial Services & Advisory Leader about the M&A and PE market constraints, future and current market challenges in Southeast Europe.
Partner, Financial Services & advisory Leader Mazars
- HOW COVID-19 HAS AFFECTED M&A AND PRIVATE EQUITY MARKETS IN THE REGION?
Although 2020 was supposed to be a promising year for the M&A market, the COVID-19 pandemic turned the estimations down as the economies around the world experienced serious contractions due to the imposed restrictions. According to the latest Mergermarket Global & Regional M&A Report for Q1-Q3‘20, there has been a decline of 26.7% of the global deal volume year to date compared to 2019; with Europe experiencing a similar trend with a 20.7% decrease in M&A deals. However, private equity registered its highest global market share compared to corporate buyers on record reaching a 19.7% YTD global market share by deal count.
This trend is in line with the results of the survey launched by Mazars in June 2020 among Private Equity funds and investors from Europe, the Americas, and Asia where 45% of the participants stated that new opportunities and acquisitions, and “bolt-ons” for their current portfolio will be their focus for the following period. An abundance of dry powder enabled private equity to take advantage of the current downturn and allowed a “cherry-picking” exercise which fueled the deals considered by the PE.
While Q3 2020 has seen an increase in higher-valued deals compared to Q2, the small and mid-market (up to €500M) has remained low. This is particularly specific for the CEE where large deals tend to be less common than western Europe. However, the end of October has announced probably the biggest M&A deal of this year in CEE with Czech utility group CEZ having reached an agreement to sell its Romanian assets to funds managed by the Australian group Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA). The deal targets seven companies, including electricity distribution networks, energy supply, and the biggest wind park in Romania, among others. The transaction’s value was not disclosed, but local media sources estimate it at around €1B.
In terms of sectors technology, media and telecom were the busiest industries in 2020 with tech investment remaining resilient and even exceeding last year’s performance. This does not come as a surprise as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to utilize more and more technology and digitalization to communicate and run their operations.
- WHAT BIG CHALLENGES HAVE ARISEN FROM THE PANDEMIC AND WHAT ARE THE LIKELY CONSEQUENCES FOR THE SECTOR?
Mazars Global Financial Advisory Services team has surveyed leaders of Private Equity funds and investors from Europe, the Americas, and Asia to understand their challenges and concerns, gauge their level of optimism for the future and find out more about their crisis response strategy.
74% of the participants come from Leveraged Buyout funds (38%) and Growth Capital funds (36%). 68% of all respondents are coming mostly from funds of a size of €51M – €200M, and the second share from the ones with €201M – €500M.
Mazars Study – COVID-19 and the world of private equity, reveals that the funds’ leaders expect a drop in revenues for their portfolio companies in the next 12 months, as an immediate impact of COVID-19. 50% of the respondents expect a drop of between 11% – 25% and this was consistent across all fund types, whilst nearly a quarter (22%) of the participants went for 26% – 50%.
When talking about the impact on funds’ exit strategy, 79% of the respondents said that the exit timing for their portfolio of companies will be delayed. This doesn’t come as a surprise at all, considering that ~90% of the funds expect a drop in revenues.
When asked: “When do you think everything will return to business as usual?” only 1 in 5 respondents (21%) said Q3 2020, while 14% predicted Q4 2020, and 61% came out more cautious, saying 2021. Just 4% said normal business conditions will return in Q2 2020. With the majority (82%) of the respondents believes that we will have a U-shaped recovery, and 10% went for the V-shaped, there is natural caution as to the overall optimism on the market.
When looking at new investments, only 6% of the respondents noted that they expect to cease to look for new investments for the foreseeable future. There is a strong consensus on what does “business as usual” mean for 74% of the participants saying that they will not only continue looking for opportunities, but they are very much open for business in the immediate term. The responses showed a general optimism regarding the appetite to invest and pursue new opportunities, but it’s hard to translate this into deal volume over the coming months.
- WHAT IS MAZARS COVID-19 RESPONSE AND HOW YOU SUPPORT PARTNERS AND MANGERS IN FURTHER DEVELOPING M&A INVESTMENTS?
Mazars has been an active promoter of the M&A market in CEE having sustained studies on the evolution of the regional market – such as Investing in CEE Inbound M&A Report 2019/2020 – released earlier this year together with Mergermarket as well as engaging in an active dialogue and constant communication with various PE funds across Europe.
Staying close to our clients and looking for opportunities for all sides was one of our key drivers during this period. As well as accessing government help, we supported lots of clients in adapting their strategies to the new market conditions. Managing the liquidity, debt restructuring or review of the growth strategy were some of the directions Mazars managed to support and help during this period.
Companies should take a closer look at their operations, look for opportunities, have a critical view of their weaknesses, and increase efficiency. The winners will be the ones that take the appropriate measures earlier. And for a lot of businesses, this efficiency will come through internal process improvement and looking for quality deals and financing.
“I sense a level of optimism and resilience from the Private Equity community. My personal experience tells us that quality transactions will still be delivered, and this is confirmed in our survey results with 74% of the respondents telling us that they are open for business and looking at new opportunities in the immediate term, considering also the reduced deal flow and the confinement restrictions.”, mentioned Răzvan Butucaru, Partner, Financial Services & Advisory Leader, Mazars Romania.