2014 Mining & Metals Deals Lowest in 10 Years
Deal volume in the global mining and metals sector reached a 10-year low in 2014, with transactions driven by divestments and forced sales in the face of falling commodity prices and risk-averse capital markets.
EY Global Mining & Metals Transactions analysis released Wednesday shows it was the fourth consecutive year of declining M&A (Mergers and Acquisitions) activity in the sector, with deal volumes down 23% year-on-year from 703 in 2013 to 544 in 2014, the lowest volume of deals since 2003.
Overall deal value was down 49% year-on-year from $87.3b in 2013 (excluding the Glencore/Xstrata merger) to $44.6b in 2014, the lowest since 2004.
Lee Downham, EY leader, says the market outlook for 2015 varies from commodity to commodity.
Downham says: “While there is a sense that the mining and metals M&A market has hit its trough, deal activity is likely to remain subdued in the face of ongoing price volatility and capital discipline across the industry. Shareholders continue to cast a watchful eye over management’s investment activities, with many pushing for more cash to be returned via buybacks and progressive dividends.
“The pace of private capital investment has been considered, and this has proven to be the right approach as share valuations continue to slide on the back of softening metal prices. This investment should pick up once the price outlook stabilizes and that will most likely trigger broader transaction activity.
“Distressed situations may drive opportunistic buying in certain commodities, but most industry acquisitions will be mergers between equals that provide synergies for both parties, or consolidation opportunities,” says Downham.
EY expects to see more joint ventures emerge in 2015 as a way of sharing the costs and risk associated with accessing new markets, realize synergies and among Asian acquirers looking to secure low-cost supply.
2014 Deal Numbers
The number of megadeals (more than $1b) dropped nearly 40%, from 18 in 2013 to just 11 in 2014. Further highlighting the risk-averse nature of deals in 2014, 60% of deal volume and 51% of deal value targeted assets in developed regions, up from 54% and 42% respectively in 2013 (excluding the Glencore/Xstrata merger).
A larger number of sub-$10m deals indicates distress among juniors and opportunistic buyers entering the market, with 65% of deals below US$10m.
Buyers came largely from within the sector during 2014, with 82% of deal value and 71% of deal volumes undertaken industry acquirers.
There was a slight drop in the volume of acquisitions by financial investors, down from 23% in 2013, to 17% in 2014.
Downham says: “There has been some criticism of private capital for not deploying capital in the early and middle parts of last year, but with the benefit of hindsight the patience in their deployment should pay off, the market softened a further 20% over the past year.”