- The boom in global M&A in 2021 will surge into 2022, fueled by abundant investment capital, historically low interest rates and a rebound in global economic growth, according to a survey of 345 corporate deal-makers in the U.S. by KPMG.
- "Based on the volume of new pitches in November and December — transactions that would come to market in Q1 and Q2 of 2022 — there are no signs of a slowing deal market," according to Philip Isom, global head of M&A at KPMG. While facing high valuations, "most investors have limited time horizons to invest in, so they may be willing to reach further on price than they have historically."
- More than 80% of the survey respondents across several industries expect total M&A valuations to rise further next year, with about one out of every three predicting at least a 10% increase, KPMG said. Deal-makers said transaction levels will remain robust, because companies "need to remain on the offense with the competition" and "feel pressure from investors to raise their own valuations."
Worldwide deal value from January until mid-November this year hit $5.1 trillion, the highest level since 2015 and a 34% gain compared with all of 2020, KPMG said. U.S. transactions rose to $2.9 trillion, or 55% more than during all of last year.
M&A has soared in 2021 as the economy recovered from a pandemic shock, record monetary and fiscal stimulus pumped up liquidity and many companies sought through acquisitions to regain their footing after months of lockdowns and persistent supply chain disruptions.
A widespread labor shortage will likely propel deal-making next year. One-third of survey respondents said they want to use M&A to acquire talent, KPMG said.
Expanding capacity is top of mind for trucking firms, as equipment and drivers are more difficult to come by in the current market. Sysco, Knight-Swift and Ashley Distribution Services are among recent acquirers of transport assets.
Companies are also increasingly using acquisitions to change their business or operating models, KPMG said, noting that industrial and financial services companies buy companies that help speed their digital transformation.
"The aim is to increase efficiencies and contribute to having more agile workforces," according to Carole Streicher, KPMG's deal advisory and strategy service group leader in the U.S.
Private equity firms will continue to push up the volume and value of M&A next year, after increasing their involvement in transaction value by more than 55% so far in 2021, KPMG said. PE firms have pursued deals this year in part because of the prospect of an increase in corporate capital gains taxes.
Growing support for sustainability among investors, regulators and other stakeholders may prompt M&A, "as businesses look at their ecological footprint and consider purchasing, rationalizing or divesting assets," KPMG said. Investors are likely to consider sustainable businesses more adaptable to market shifts.
Finally, concerns about the potential for rising borrowing costs may prompt dealmakers who rely on debt financing to speed up acquisition plans. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell late last month said policymakers at their two-day meeting beginning Tuesday will likely consider speeding up the withdrawal of accommodation.
Dealmakers face some headwinds. Democrats in the Senate have yet to muster enough support for a roughly $2 trillion social policy bill that would help sustain economic growth. Meanwhile, the outbreak of the omicron variant of COVID-19 has highlighted the fragility of financial markets and the economy to any setbacks in curbing the pandemic.
Survey respondents identified several factors that will influence dealmaking next year, with 61% underscoring high valuations, 56% pointing to liquidity and other economic considerations, and 55% noting intense competition for a limited number of highly valued acquisition targets, KPMG said.
Still, only 7% of the survey respondents said they expect deal volumes to decline in their industries next year.
Survey respondents work at companies in industries ranging from media and financial services to energy and technology, with 194 of them CFOs, CEOs or other C-suite executives.
S.L. Fuller contributed to this story.