This year, KPMG’s Swiss M&A Awards go to Novartis, Bell, Zurich Insurance Group as well as Partners Group, which is being distinguished for the first time in a new category: most impressive private equity transaction on the Swiss M&A market.
KPMG is presenting the Swiss M&A Award again this year to honor the Swiss companies whose exceptional M&A activities during 2018 made them stand out. KPMG has also selected the first-ever winner of the award’s new category: most impressive private equity transaction with Swiss involvement. Swiss M&A Awards have been presented every year since 2011.
While Novartis’ USD 8.7 billion acquisition of AveXis last year “only” took third place in terms of transaction volume, it was still the largest acquisition by far by a Swiss company in 2018. Novartis sold its 36.5% stake in a mutual joint venture to GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for USD 13.0 billion in order to focus more strongly on developing and growing the group’s core business. The Basel-based biotechnology and pharmaceutical then acquired US-based AveXis, Inc., a leader on the gene therapy market. This innovative company has developed a new therapy that makes it possible to use a virus to replace a defective gene in a patient’s spinal cord with a healthy gene. What makes this treatment so remarkable is its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, which had been an almost insurmountable hurdle for neurotherapies until now.
Bell’s acquisition of Hügli Holding for a total of USD 536 million was recognized for being the most exciting Swiss transaction on the Swiss M&A market. After initially acquiring a majority stake from the Stoffel family, Bell then submitted a public takeover bid to the shareholders. Partly because the Stoffel family considers Bell a conscientious owner, this acquisition is an impressive example of a highly successful and sustainable succession plan that blends a public takeover with the purchase of a majority stake.
Zurich Insurance Group’s extremely brisk M&A activity made it stand out in 2018. In Latin America alone, the group acquired a total of 19 insurance companies through its subsidiary Cover More. Further acquisitions were made in Indonesia (Oak Underwriting Plc) and Germany (51% stake in ADAC Autoversicherung), for example.
This year also marked KPMG Switzerland’s first-time recognition of the most impressive private equity transaction with Swiss participation. The winner in this category is Partners Group, which was joined by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and the Ontario Teacher's Pension Plan to purchase Germany-based Techem for USD 5.4 billion. Partners Group made another seven acquisitions on top of this, making it one of the most active players on the local M&A market.
Private equity (PE) is playing an increasingly important role in company mergers and acquisitions. The number of private equity deals peaked at 160 transactions in 2018, the highest number ever recorded since these statistics were first compiled in 2007. The transaction volume expanded to USD 35.6 billion, which is 96.7% higher than in the previous year.
Merger and acquisition activity among Swiss companies and investors was extremely high in 2018 and paved the way to a record-breaking year in the M&A business. The pharmaceutical and life sciences industry, the consumer goods industry and the industrial sector reported particularly high levels of M&A activity. According to Timo Knak, Head of Deal Advisory at KPMG Switzerland: “We expect M&A activity to remain brisk in 2019 as well, albeit at a somewhat lower level than in the previous year. Changes to the portfolios of large Swiss companies are one of this year’s driving forces.”
||Most impressive international Transaction with Swiss involvement||Most active Swiss company on the M&A market||Most impressive national transaction||Most impressive private equity transaction with Swiss involvement|
|2018||Novartis||Zurich Insurance Group||Bell||Partners Group|
|2017||EQT Partners AB||BKW AG||Arbonia||-|
|2012||Zurich Insurance Group||ABB/Nestlé||Bell||-|
The Swiss M&A Award has been presented by KPMG Switzerland every year since 2011 to acknowledge the extraordinary M&A activities of Swiss companies. The winners were selected by an in-house jury of KPMG employees chaired by Timo Knak, Head of M&A at KPMG Switzerland.