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Wednesday, 30 December 2020

A boom year for M&A

Buyers and sellers looked past covid-19 and the depressed public market valuations that accompanied it to announce 110 M&As in 2020, up from 80 the year before (+38%). Oddly enough, that correlates nicely with 2015, which we declared “The Year of M&A” as 39 transactions were concluded even as the EGX30 was down -21.8% for the year.

Wait, Enterprise, where’d ya get yer data? As is the case with our IPO tracker, above, we track every whisper of an M&A that we hear of and keep it on a super-secret Google Sheet.

We think it’s now officially a trend: More and more companies have chosen to grow through merger or acquisition since the late 2016 float of the EGP. We reported on 39 companies tying the knot in 2017, while 56 did so in 2018.

Most M&A activity was among privately held companies, and most of them were no more prone to disclosing transaction values this year than last. But: In total, we reported on transactions with a disclosed value of EGP 70.8 bn in 2020, more than double the EGP 29.1 bn we covered last year.

Broken transaction of the year: Vodafone Plc’s USD 2.4 bn sale of Vodafone Egypt to Saudi Telecom (STC), which went bust just before Christmas. Vodafone’s group CEO has since chatted with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to reassure him that Big Red is here to stay — and sees Egypt as a hub for its push into Africa. Because our tracker covers all announced M&A, that figure skews the telecom industry’s contribution to the top sector by value (below).

Transaction of the year: It was whispered of in the market last year, but Fahad El Khater’s Alameda Healthcare (parent company of As-Salam International and Dar El Fouad hospitals) finally sold itself to Cleopatra Hospitals just this week in a landmark transaction that could be worth as much as USD 500 mn. Alameda boss (and majority shareholder) Fahad El Khater becomes the second-largest shareholder in Cleopatra and vice-chairman of CHG — you can read all about the transaction here.

(Note that the CLHO-Alameda transaction isn’t included in the by-value totals below because neither company would confirm the figure put out there by Bloomberg.)

By number of transactions, banking and financial services as well as healthcare were again the prime drivers of M&A activity in the year now ending. Taking a wide view of industry classifications:

Top industries for M&A in 2020, by #: Banking and financial services (32), healthcare (19), followed by building materials, infrastructure, oil and gas and real estate at six apiece.

Top industries for M&A in 2019, by #: Banking and financial services (15), healthcare (10), food (7), energy (7) and education (6).

Top industries for M&A by announced value, 2020 (in EGP): Tech & telecoms (37.3 bn), pharma (14.4 bn), banking & financial services (6.4 bn).

Top industries for M&A by announced value, 2019 (in EGP): Tech & telecoms (12.2 bn), oil and gas (8.8 bn) and healthcare (2.7 bn).

Foreign interest in Egyptian M&A was on par with 2019. Fully 36% of the M&A stories we covered this year involved transactions with foreign involvement, largely unchanged from 34% in 2019.

About 56% of transactions announced in 2020 are complete, while just 9% went bust. Look for the completion rate to tick up as we head into 2021 — the USD 500 mn or so Cleopatra / Alameda tie-up was on our tracker at the end of 2019 as “possible.” In total, we end 2020 with 62 completed transactions, 10 broken, 10 in process, 26 we list as planned / possible, and two whose status is unknown. Last year’s completion rate as of today? 80%, by our math.

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