Global M&A Sentiment Tracker
M&A is top of mind: Will dealmakers actually double down in a downturn?
In a world roiled by activism, geopolitical uncertainty and data risk, dealmakers are eager to lean in, according to our survey
If you're like us, you spend a lot of time thinking about where M&A markets are headed. That's particularly true in times of uncertainty when we are eager for any information that can help us understand how forces, such as the coronavirus outbreak, may affect people and markets.
To better understand what dealmakers think about the future, we're launching the White & Case Global M&A Sentiment Tracker. Our first project under this banner is a survey of 800 senior M&A executives from companies operating in a wide variety of sectors around the globe. In early 2020, we also conducted in-depth phone interviews with selected dealmakers.
We did this research before the coronavirus outbreak really took hold, but we believe that most of what we heard from dealmakers in 2019 remains true today, even if timelines for some of their expectations may have shifted.
This collection is our first contribution from the project, and it's focused on four main insights developed from the survey:
- Dealmakers plan to lean into a downturn. Fifty percent of respondents said they expect to do more deals if a downturn emerges in 2020 than if one doesn't. Coronavirus may change when this happens but we still think a "lean in" attitude will prevail at some point
- Shareholder activism changes everything. Though many companies will have to contend with an activist, virtually all public companies now have to grapple with activism—in part because it has helped transform how companies think about M&A strategy
- Trade and national security policies create pent-up demand for cross-border deals. Most companies expect to do more cross-border deals in 2020—with some newly able to target desired countries and others forced to wait or shift priorities
- The digital revolution could fuel "shadow protectionism." Virtually every company is on the hunt for tech—but mounting tensions related to data use could have huge implications not only for M&A but also geopolitics and the global economy
It has been incredibly rewarding to think through what we've heard from dealmakers so far, and we're grateful for their contributions. We would be equally grateful to hear any thoughts you may have about this collection or how you'd like to see this project evolve. Please let us know what you think.
In the fourth quarter of 2019, we conducted a survey of 800 dealmakers at companies in the US, Europe and Asia-Pacific. These were senior executives at large companies operating in more than ten sectors. We also conducted phone interviews with selected senior executives, some of whom are quoted in the report.
How do you expect M&A activity to change in your region over the next year?
In your opinion, how likely is an economic downturn within the following timeframes?
In the event of an economic downturn, would you expect to carry out more or fewer deals in 2020?
Is your organization looking to carry out a cross-border transaction over the next twelve months?
Increased protectionism has caused my firm to increasingly focus on domestic deals
Shareholder activism will be a major driver of M&A activity over the next twelve months