Middle East deal activity picks up in Q2


Staff Report

Dubai – Despite a backdrop of continued political turbulence, cross-border dealmaking held steady globally in Q2 2017, with the Middle East seeing a substantial uptick in deal activity, according to Baker McKenzie’s Cross-Border M&A Index.
The global Index, which tracks quarterly deal activity using a baseline score of 100, decreased to 233 for Q2 2017, down 4% from the prior quarter but up 15% from Q2 2016. In Q2 2017, cross-border M&A made up 36% and 47% of global deal volume and value, respectively.
Buyers announced 1,368 cross-border deals worth $345.8 billion, a 10% decrease in volume but only a 1% decrease in value compared to Q1 2017. As the EU gained relative stability in the wake of Brexit developments and elections in the region, it accounted for more than half of cross-border deal value and nearly half of cross-border deal volume in Q2 2017.
North America was the most acquisitive region by deal value, announcing 364 deals valued at US$128.9 billion. Following a challenging first quarter impacted by government legislation, Chinese investors returned to the deal table in Q2 2017 and were the second most acquisitive cross-border nation with 94 deals valued at US$35.9 billion.
Globally, the Chemicals and Materials sector led by deal value in Q2 2017 with 42 deals valued at US$60.4 billion, while the Industrials sector led by deal volume with 209 deals valued at US$25.4 billion. Pharmaceuticals and Construction were the second and third highest sectors in terms of value, contributing US$40.2 billion and US$36.3 billion, respectively.
Middle East cross-border dealmaking picked up in Q2 2017, with the Middle East Index increasing to 201.5, withstanding the continuing political and economic uncertainty in the region and beyond. Cross-regional deal activity was spurred by a substantial increase in outbound M&A, although the quarter witnessed lower inbound M&A activity. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) continued to drive M&A in the region, being the most active country in the Middle East in respect of both inbound and outbound investment.
“Largely due to two mega transactions, the first half of 2017 has seen an impressive four-fold increase in Middle East outbound deal value compared to the same period last year, despite a much smaller number of deals,” said Will Seivewright, Corporate/M&A Partner at Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla, based in the UAE. “While M&A deals targeting the Middle East dropped in both value and volume in Q2 2017, the overall level of cross-border and cross-regional activity that we are seeing is a promising indicator for the rest of the year.”

Inbound Middle East M&A
Compared to the previous quarter, the value and volume of cross-regional M&A deals targeting the Middle East fell by 38% in Q2 2017, with only five deals valued at US$1.84 billion, representing a 73% decrease from the same quarter last year.
The UAE was the top target country by both volume and value, with three deals across various sectors amounting to US$1.07 billion. France was the top bidder country by value for Q2 2017, with ENGIE’s US$775 million acquisition of a 40% stake in UAE-based industrial firm Tabreed.
Financial Services was the top performing sector by volume and value in Q2 2017, accounting for three deals valued at US$1 billion.

Outbound Middle East M&A
By value, cross-regional deals originating from the Middle East trebled from Q1 to Q2 2017, reaching US$17.2 billion – the highest outbound M&A value since 2015, which was a record-breaking year for cross-regional M&A. However, deal volume fell by 41%, with only 10 deals during the same quarter.
The UAE was the most active outbound investor country from the Middle East by both volume and value, with a total of six deals valued at US$16.6 billion. The second and third highest bidder countries by both volume and value were Bahrain with three deals valued at US$571 million and Qatar with one deal valued at US$73 million.
The Pharmaceuticals sector was the stand-out industry by value, attributable to the mega US$9.05 billion buyout of US-based Pharmaceutical Product Development, LLC by the sovereign wealth funds of Abu Dhabi and Singapore. The Transportation sector was top by deal volume, recording three deals.