Globally, 2017 has been a period of apprehension for dealmakers and while economic growth has certainly slowed, the cliff-edge some were predicting has failed to materialise. Following on the momentum created in the second half of 2017, The Global Transactions Forecast, developed in association with Oxford Economics, predicts a cyclical peak in 2018 for several macroeconomic and financial deal drivers, with 2018 marking the high point of the deal cycle for the world’s largest transaction centres.
Wildu du Plessis, Head of Africa at Baker McKenzie in Johannesburg, noted that in Nigeria, policy and economic uncertainties had contributed to stalled dealmaking in the country. Uncertainties included a lack of access to foreign exchange, blockages to the government budget process, and low oil production that had constrained GDP growth.
“As these conditions ease in the final months of 2017 and into 2018, a rebound in M&A to around US$4 billion in both 2018 and 2019 is forecasted,” said du Plessis.
In Nigeria, M&A transactions were valued at US$ 1,202.5 million in 2016, this is predicted to drop to US$ 716.4 million in 2017. In 2018, this is predicted to rise to US$ 3,977.4 million and to US$ 3,936.1 million in 2019. There were 28 M&A transactions in 2016 and 28 are predicted again in 2017, 35 deals are expected in 2018, rising to 40 in 2019.
Du Plessis noted, however, “For South Africa, there is no guarantee that the predicted upswing will come to pass. There is just too much political uncertainty. If the ANC National Conference in December does not deliver the solution that markets are hoping for, then deal flow and IPO activity will be affected and depressed. If on the other hand there is some hope of a change to the political situation, things may well indeed change for the better.”
Morne van der Merwe, Managing Partner of Baker McKenzie in Johannesburg said, “Current conditions in South Africa have slowed M&A growth in that international investors are reluctant to invest in South Africa due to the political and economic uncertainty. This uncertainty has caused a reduction in Foreign Direct Investment, which, in turn, hindered deal-making. Due to the downgrades and potential for further downgrades, the cost of raising capital for acquisitions has also become more expensive.”
Globally, “After a few soft patches in 2017 we have a more optimistic outlook for the global economy and dealmaking in 2018, as long as the brakes are not put any further on global free trade. We see an uplift in both M&A and IPO activity as dealmakers and investors gain greater confidence in the business prospects of acquisition targets and newly-listed businesses,” added Paul Rawlinson, Baker McKenzie’s global chair. “However, it’s not a done deal, with the threat of a Hard Brexit and a NAFTA collapse both still very real. Business will need to continue to make the case for liberal trade and investment frameworks.”
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