Bumbacea, Ernst & Young: M&A activity still weak in the first 5-6 months

The Romanian mergers & acquisition market remained relatively dull in the first quarter, evaluated at around €178 million, with few transactions completed, of which many have not been made public, said Cornelia Bumbacea, partner Ernst & Young Romania, at the M&A Outlook conference organized by Wall-Street in partnership with Enterprise Investors and Ernst&Young.
“If you’re asking me now, the Romanian M&A market doesn’t look so good. If you asked me a month ago, the market was showing signs of thawing. I don’t see necessarily a growing appetite for dealmaking, but resumptions of shelved talks that began in last fall instead. There are hopes, but the first 5-6 months have been pretty dull, as few were those projects that actually wrapped up and many of them haven’t been even made public”, said Cornelia Bumbacea (photo).

According to an Ernst & Young March survey of companies in 51 countries, operating in 40 industries, 61% of the respondents said they were optimistic about the emergence from the financial crisis in the following 12 months, while 69% said they were confident in the economic outlook of countries where they operate.

On the other hand, equity investment strategies are focused on deals able to deliver organic growth, acquisitions in sectors deemed relevant, namely research and development. In this conditions, 47% of the companies expect to close a deal in the following six months, versus 25% in 2009, the percentage following to increase to 67% over the next two years.

The biggest obstacles in the completion of a deal rest in the uncertainty of the valuation multiples (65%), investors’ prudence (60%) and the increase of risks incurred by a transaction (57%).

“Talks that began a year and a half ago do reach the written form phase, but the requirements are much too restrictive. Everybody looks at recession-proof sectors. The completion of a deal in Romania lasts at least six months since the start of negotiation talks. The market shows signals of thawing, but it will take a while before the pickup would reflect in the M&A activity, in particular due to the mismatch between buyers’ and sellers’ price expectations”, Bumbacea added.

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