On A Rally: Strongest 1st Quarter For Canadian M&A Deals By Value Since 2007 However “This Is A Different Market” says PwC

Apr 15, 2011 | Corporate Member News

791 deals, worth nearly $51 billion and 81% higher than Q1 2010 

The past 90 days in Canada have resulted in over $50 billion worth of deal announcements – 81% higher than the first quarter of 2010 and in line with the Q1 2007 high.  

PwC’s Canadian Deals Leader Kristian Knibutat says: “It has been a very active quarter and we’ve seen more diversity in deal making. For the first time since the credit crisis, the top twenty deals of the quarter showcased a variety of different industries. But our view is that the overall M&A environment in 2011 is dramatically different than 2007.”  

The PwC report suggests that 2011 will be very promising, but also points out some key differentiators between today’s post-crisis Canadian M&A market and the pre-crisis “boom.” Four trends are featured:  

A new kind of resource market. While Q1 saw activity from a variety of industries,  Canada’s deal markets remains the most concentrated on the globe (49% commodities). Within commodities, however emerging sub-sectors such as agriculture, alternative energy, junior mining, shale gas and unconventional extraction look to be the most promising deal opportunities. 

Knibutat also stressed that “Sector concentration in energy and resources is also a reminder that Canada’s deal market is being supported by acute concerns about a variety of macro issues. This market is not being driven by 2007-like market exuberance.”  

The return of leverage (but not leveraged deals). There was no shortage of leverage available in the first quarter of 2011. In fact there was a record quarterly volume of new issue leveraged loans in Q1, higher even than Q2 of 2007. However, most new issues were in support of repricing and recapitalization, not LBOs. Buyers remain hesitant to pursue leveraged buy outs that meet seller’s value expectations.

According to Knibutat: “This tension is evident in the relatively still-low LBO multiples.  Buyers simply are not ready to march back into 2007 10x EBITDA + multiple territory.”  

Private equity re-invented. In what is proving to be more of a market shift than a post-crisis anomaly, financial buyers continue to take a back seat to corporate buyers. This quarter, despite an uptick in available leverage and robust capital markets, private equity firms were only involved in 20% of Canadian deals (measured by value), down from 29% (Q4 2010) and 23% (Q3 2010). No Canadian private equity deal breached the $1 billion mark. In addition to digesting opportunistic deals completed in 2010, many private equity firms spent the quarter focusing on rebalancing private company portfolios and maximizing efficiencies within private company portfolios.

According to Knibutat: “The shift away from the “lever-buy-sell” business model is not entirely due to lessons learned during the credit crisis. It is partially being driven by a shift in where the compelling buy-side deal opportunities are in today’s market – a variety of resource/commodity sectors and emerging markets.  In both cases, leverage is not the best way to boost returns.”  

A new player – China. China’s role at the upper end of the deal market in Canada is new to this cycle. An understanding of China’s latest five-year plan, focused almost exclusively on domestic growth, sheds some light on what is behind this deal making: China is pursuing M&A in order to gain technology and know-how to leverage within China.   Rather than focus on inbound investment from China, however, Canadians should consider the opportunities.  

“China’s five-year plan and its new ’emerging industry list’ is a positive from a Canadian perspective. We see key opportunities in sectors such as clean energy, health care, consulting services, finance and bio/nano technologies,” says Knibutat. Overall, there will be some good opportunities for Canadian businesses that are able to align their strategies with Beijing’s larger policy goals,” he says.  

The full report can be accessed at: http://www.pwc.com/en_CA/ca/deals/publications/canadian-quarterly-2011-04-en.pdf  

About PwC’s Deal Team
PwC’s Deal Team (www.pwc.com/ca/deals) helps clients to achieve deal success—from concept to close and beyond. As part of the world’s largest Transaction Advisory practice1, and with our global Corporate Finance group being 2010 Upper Mid Market M&A Advisor of the Year2, the PwC Canada Deals Team is your gateway to an exciting new world of emerging M&A opportunities.  

Firm Description
PwC firms provide industry-focused assurance, tax and advisory services to enhance value for their clients. More than 161,000 people in 154 countries in firms across the PwC network share their thinking, experience and solutions to develop fresh perspectives and practical advice. See http://www.pwc.com/ for more information. In Canada, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (www.pwc.com/ca) and its related entities have more than 5,300 partners and staff in offices across the country.  

“PwC” is the brand under which member firms of PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited (PwCIL) operate and provide services. Together, these firms form the PwC network. Each firm in the network is a separate legal entity and does not act as agent of PwCIL or any other member firm. PwCIL does not provide any services to clients. PwCIL is not responsible or liable for the acts or omissions of any of its member firms nor can it control the exercise of their professional judgment or bind them in any way.  

Note to Editors: PwC has changed its name from PricewaterhouseCoopers to PwC in the fall of 2010. ‘PwC’ is written in text with a capital ‘P’ and capital ‘C’. Only when you use the PwC logo is the name represented in lower case.  

Sources:  S&P LCD, Capital IQ, Eurasia Group, Globe and Mail, the Economist, Financial Times, Bloomberg  


1 Source: Kennedy;”Business Advisory Services Marketplace 2009-2011″ ©BNA Subsidiaries, LLC. Reproduced under license.

2 Source: Acquisitions Monthly Awards 2010 

“PwC” refers to PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, an Ontario limited liability partnership, which is a member firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited, each member firm of which is a separate legal entity  

For further information: 

David Rowney, PwC
Tel: 416 365 8858
email: [email protected] 

Kiran Chauhan, PwC
Tel: 416 947 8983
email: [email protected]

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