Continuous strategic shifts and digital agenda expected to fuel M&A activities in FY18.
The current Belgian M&A appetite is higher than during the first half of the year, with P/E multiples up 2.2% in December 2017 as compared to June 2017. On a year-on-year basis, we note a slight decrease of 1.0% indicating rather stable analyst expectations in terms of Belgian M&A appetite in 2017. The decrease in appetite is primarily observed for smaller and mid-sized corporations, whereas the largest companies recovered from a small dip in P/E ratios during the first half of the year. Overall, the Belgian M&A appetite remains at a very high level and is expected to remain strong in 2018 amidst favorable macroeconomic conditions.
Forward P/E multiples have increased for larger corporations in the second half of the year (+2.5%). On the other hand, small and mid-sized corporations were faced with slightly decreasing multiples in the last six months (-4.3%).
We observe very low debt levels for small and mid-sized companies, leading to an increased funding capacity. More-over, analysts expect the funding capacity to significantly improve for both larger and smaller corporations. The rise in corporate earnings have enabled debt repayment in a context of accommodative monetary policy.
The graph below shows trailing statistics for deals completed worldwide involving Belgian bidders. The deal flow remains strong with an increase in completed deals during the second half of 2017 by Belgian bidders includ-ing AB Inbev, Solvay, Umicore, D’Ieteren and Bpost. In addition, the Belgian M&A market has seen some large transactions involving foreign bidders for Belgian targets, including Belron, Betafence, ADB Safegate, etc..
Our Deal Advisory practice hit a record-high level of activity in 2017 and our professionals expect this trend to continue this year. We ended the year with both a large number of deals completed as well as transactions which are being prepared to go to market during the first half of FY18. As this trend will continue, we expect booming M&A activities in the first half of this year.
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