HBI Deals+Insights / News

Two years of deals squeezed into one?

As had been long expected, M&A activity which was deferred at the height of Covid has ramped up to almost record proportions.

Sources from multiple sectors tell us they have never been so busy. Alvarez and Marsal’s MD told us last week that it was “absolutely flat out as is every single M&A advisory group right now”. One UK-based ophthalmology advisor put it to us like this, this week: “What investors were waiting for was a clear sign the recovery was almost complete and they could see blue water in front of them… I think why we are now seeing a large number of processes coming through is that people saw it wasn’t the right time to do it last year, and we were all lined up and waiting. We’re effectively seeing two year’s worth of processes in one year.”

A look at the recent news for readers with an HBI Deals + Insights membership confirms this. This week alone, we report on a trio of big deals in European imaging, the acquisition of a global medtech ophtha operator by CVC, some significant plays by sovereign wealth funds in the Asia-Pacific region, a German elderly care deal, yet more activity from big-spending Korian in France and one deal and an ongoing process in ophthalmology services.

Hospital M&A is picking up the pace too. Russia’s second-largest group EMC looks like it will actually come good on perennial IPO promises this year with a stock exchange filing, France looks like it will have its third top-five transaction in barely 12 months with Almaviva Sante, and there’s the small matter of Ramsay’s £1bn takeover of Spire Healthcare.

Not every sector is enjoying a glut of M&A. Many of the nursing homes being touted even pre-Covid remain resolutely unsold. But there is a general feeling that momentum will continue to build and that there are more deals to follow. Strong rumours persist that the likes of German ophtha heavy hitters Ober Scharrer and Artemis will both come to market shortly.

And if 2021 is finishing strongly, 2022 may be even better for deals, we hear from multiple sources. Pent-up demand, from deferred procedures and long (usually public) waiting lists, is only going to power further market activity in many sectors heading into 2022, by which time we can only all hope that Covid is largely a receding global threat.

We would welcome your thoughts on this story. Email your views to David Farbrother or call 0207 183 3779.