Corporate Deal-Making Could Make Comeback in Europe: Economist Intelligence Unit

on June 05 2013 12:39 PM
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    Germany's DAX. Reuters
  • Europe
    A Euro sign. REUTERS
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Europe remains a key place for companies seeking to cut corporate deals by acquiring or merging with other companies, according to a global report issued Wednesday.

More than 40 percent of senior executives at large corporations perceive Europe as an area ripe for further growth and acquisition, far ahead of their views on the Americas, the Middle East and Africa, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's survey, done for the Clifford Chance law firm.

Executives cited Europe’s advanced infrastructure and technological knowledge, along with its stable legal and regulatory system, as factors in their favorable view toward the continent.

Matthew Layton, who heads Clifford Chance’s global corporate practice, hailed the survey as signaling a turnaround of business sentiment about Europe, which has been troubled by debt and currency crises in recent years.

“There is no doubt that the European M&A market has had a difficult few years since the global financial crisis took hold,” said Layton in a statement. “However, the survey results indicate why we may now be approaching a turning point.”

In one notable response, fully half of the executives said a dissolution of the euro zone, and a move away from the euro currency, would actually make them more likely to do corporate deals there.

“Our survey shows that deal-makers are beginning to refocus on Europe, sizing up attractive opportunities, as depressed valuations mean there are bargains to be had,” added Layton.

Challenging socioeconomic conditions on the continent mean that companies can acquire firms at “bargain” prices, an opportunity welcomed by executives, according to the survey.

Asia came on top, though, beating out Europe as a destination for corporate deals. The survey polled 370 merger and acquisition strategists at companies around the world, with half of the companies earning more than $1 billion annually.

According to a previous report by Clifford Chance, companies are still very cautious about corporate mergers, given global economic and political uncertainty, so an immediate uptick in corporate deal-making remains unlikely. 

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