Global M&A Conversation 2021

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Join Mergermarket for the decisive outlook on M&A in 2021

The Global M&A Conversation is a major virtual event to connect acquirers, investors, advisors and lenders around the deal drivers for 2021. This event is an opportunity to gain expert perspectives from top speakers in the global M&A community about the themes that will define the market in the future. Our survey of 50 European Dealmakers on their predictions for 2021 show that there are signs of recovery and optimism is growing for 2021. On the basis of that report, the agenda will examine how COVID has transformed industries and consider four drivers of future growth across all sectors – innovation, globalisation, sustainability and private capital.

This international event aims to connect Mergermarket's sophisticated corporate and private equity audiences from all over the world. You will have the ability to connect and chat with other deal professionals through the networking features on our platform. Upon registration you will become a Deals+ Beta Member. Deals+ supports your deal workflow by rapidly expanding your network of contacts with which you can validate opportunities and develop business, driven by personalised insights. Find out more here.

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How to register

  • Deals+ profile upon registration
  • Watch all sessions live or on-demand
  • Access all networking features
  • GMT Timezone

  • 08:40
  • 08:45

    Morning mindfulness

    Strategies to deal with stress and distractions that come from working from home.

  • Innovation

    Many industries were already facing huge changes. The pandemic was the catalyst to accelerate that transformation, causing companies to adapt their footprint and futureproof strategy. The trend for technology M&A seen in recent years continued in 2020, with the reliance upon the digital economy shaping consumer habits for years to come.

    • 09:00

      (It’s not just a) vaccine development

      Investors are accessing ancillary technologies as investment opportunities as a multitude of global drug developers deploy funds into the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. Such technologies will not only address COVID-19 but will also have a major role to play in future pandemics. Ancillary technologies include therapeutics that address comorbidities in patients who have contracted the virus, genomic tools for testing, diagnostic tools and logistics and supply chain management.  

      Beyond COVID-19, companies with genomic capabilities, such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or next generation sequencing (NGS), can facilitate in quickly decoding the genetic building blocks of new viruses and not only detect infections, but also facilitate mRNA-based vaccine development.  

      Therapeutics for patients who contract the virus and have existing comorbidities are garnering investor interest. Healthcare systems are primarily looking for antivirals or therapeutics that help modulate inflammation. Governments are inadequately prepared for global pandemics and there are not enough therapeutics that mitigate the severity and mortality of these diseases.  

      Companies operating in pharma logistics – such as drug manufacturing, packaging and distribution – are equally expected to attract substantial investor interest as administering a vaccine to billions will not be easy.

      Kalle Koskinen
      CEO, Genomill Health
    • 09:40

      Health and fitness ecommerce heats up

      Health and fitness brands have accelerated digital offers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as consumers look to sweat outside the gym. Valuations of Gymshark, Sweaty Betty and Lululemon Athletica have provided evidence of heated interested in the athleisure space. Lululemon’s acquisition of MIRROR expands their offering into high-end workout equipment providing a recurring revenue via digital subscriptions. Behavioural user data collected is also extremely valuable to advertisers. This keynote will explore the rise of digital health and fitness brands and their expansion plans.

    • 10:00

      Uneven consumer sector recovery

      Global consumer sector M&A is showing signs of an uneven post-COVID-19 recovery, with targets in lockdown-friendly niches meeting PE funds’ ample dry powder. On the other end of the spectrum, poor performers have seen their cash flows severely impacted by the pandemic and distressed situations will continue to be a significant catalyst for M&A in the months ahead.    

      Globally, the value of consumer-sector M&A hit a high of €448bn in 2015, then fell consecutively to €192bn last year with big-ticket deals drying up. However, modest signs of hope are apparent as lockdown eases. The high performers included producers of staple foods, certain beauty products and direct-to-consumer businesses. Recent strategic tie-ups in the food space have signalled more deals to come near the base of the supply chain.  

      Distressed subsectors, and therefore fertile ground of immediate M&A, include retail, travel and casual dining. Among the high-profile collapses include Hema, which was taken over by its creditors. Nearly all apparel-retail M&A tracked in 2020 involved a target being bought out of administration including SCP Private Equity’s purchase of TM Lewin, Bain Capital and Gordon Brothers Group’s acquisition of Laura Ashley and Cobepa and M80 Partners acquisition of Le Pain Quotidien.

      Rebekah Woo
      Rebekah Woo
      Managing Director, Maternal Infant & Family, Healthcare Holdings, Fosun Group
    • 10:40


    • 11:00

      Smart City and how AI is disrupting conventional industries resulting in growth in the Internet of Things sector

      2019 saw a record year for M&A in the smart-home technology and Internet of Things (IoT) sectors. The trend is expected to continue after 2020; the year in which the home office became the ‘new normal’ as the population turned homebound as a result of lockdown restrictions and social distancing. Kitchen appliances turned out to be among one of the pandemic hot targets in the smart home space as DIY and home-made projects, particularly baking, gained ground during lockdown.

      Real estate investors have also taken up the trend expanding portfolios to include smart-home technologies and ‘anything that touches real estate’. Investors point towards millennial and Generation Z consumption habits including the emphasis on intelligent and green household appliances.

      The domestic consumer market has started showing signs of post-pandemic recovering with online sales of home appliances and cooking appliances increasing. Rising demands for comfort in household chores is accelerating household product replacement rate. Technology is a key driver of the change in consumption habits forcing traditional manufacturers to transform into providers of integrated smart home services.

    • 11:20

      M&A tech in troubled times: how to use technology to improve insights and successful outcomes

      One of the most dominant themes of recent months has been the advantage that technological savviness has afford companies facing distancing measures. Tech eases the deal process in troubled times as the way M&A transactions are conducted. Technology is key to help mitigate time lags in deal prep and will be the number one biggest contributor to more efficient deal making in 2021.

  • Globalisation

    Global supply chain disruption was highlighted in the onset of the pandemic. The disruption caused to manufacturing supply chains prompted a re-think of where future capital investment should be located. Logistics businesses have been an essential component to the at-home economy. Governments retrenched to safeguard domestic employment, with more stringent reviews of foreign investment coming.

    • 12:00

      Cross-border M&A and FDI outlook

      Global foreign direct investment (FDI) flow had an economic fallout from COVID-19. Lockdowns around the world and geopolitical events slowed existing investment projects and the possibilities of a recession led multinational businesses to revaluate new projects. M&A activity in the middle of 2020 was also subdued, but corporates and sponsors alike spent their way through the crisis in the fourth quarter. However, cross-border deal activity saw an overall 14.2% decline compared to 2019. Also, in Europe the pandemic has prompted EU member states to tighten their foreign direct investment (FDI) provisions in 2020 and to propose or create new regimes. This fireside chat will examine the trends that may kickstart or further stall cross-border M&A deal activity. 

      Professor Scott Moeller
      Professor Scott Moeller
      Director, M&A Research Centre, The Business School (formerly Cass)
    • 13:00

      Midday break

    • 12:40

      Deal complexity

      This fireside chat will explore deals conducted in the last 12 months against the odds of supply chain disruption, regulatory policy and the global pandemic. 

    • 14:00

      Big Tech M&A

      The acceleration of the digital economy is forcing dealmakers and companies to rethink strategy and will fuel M&A activity. For the tech industry, the US presidential and general elections place focus on Tech M&A. Tax policy has already shaped M&A and looks set to continue to do so with regulatory policy putting Big Tech in the crosshairs.  

      Jay C. Macdonald
      Jay C. Macdonald
      Founder/CEO/Managing Partner, Digital Capital Advisors
    • 14:40

      Understanding the UK’s new FDI bill

      The UK’s FDI bill consultation period has received concerned responses that the Investment Bill will seek to narrow the proposed sector definitions. There are also concerns that a new agency within the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) tasked with policing the regime will be inundated with deal cases.  

      The UK government has identified 17 ‘core sectors’, in which completing a deal subject to mandatory notification before clearance is given will risk a penalty of 5% of worldwide turnover, or £10m, whichever is higher. The same maximum applies to failure to comply with an interim or final order under the regime.  

      Adding new, broad sectors has the potential to extend the reach of FDI screening considerably. Uncertainty over the sector boundaries and timetable could also deter investors. This session will explore the how the new bill will affect the attractiveness of the UK to investors.

    • 15:00

      Investment delivered in transportation and logistics

      Stay-at-home orders and distancing measures pushed millions of peoples to order their food, groceries, and medicine online. The e-commerce boom led to an unprecedented surge in the demand for last-mile delivery serviced. Start-ups specialised in delivering goods purchased to shoppers’ homes, including online logistics marketplaces that connect shippers with independent drivers, are seizing the moment to raise tens of millions in fresh capital. This trend is particularly prevalent in Latin America 

      On the other side of the coin, in the trucking industry, many companies struggled and will need to restructure to avoid bankruptcy, which could lead to merger opportunities. The shipping sector also took a dive at the beginning of the year, but as a sector accustomed to navigating stormy weather, it looks to be stabilising as demand for raw materials has boosted economic activity. 

  • 15:20

    Hosted huddles

    Join a hosted breakout room and connect with likeminded corporates, PE funds and dealmakers.  

    • Healthcare
    • Consumer
    • Deal Tech
    • Protectionism
  • 15:55
  • 16:00

    At Home HIIT

    Take a break from your desk to join a 45-minute resistance session hosted by a personal trainer.

    Mark Ireland
    Ex-professional rugby player & Evening Standard’s top London PT
  • GMT Timezone

  • 08:00

    5K virtual M&A mileage

    Join our Strava group to take part in a global dealmakers 5k walk, jog or run.

  • 08:45

    Chair's opening remarks

    John West
    John West
    Managing Editor EMEA, Acuris
  • Sustainability

    The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties in November 2021. Dozens of world leaders will attend to in the most important round of talks since the global Paris Agreement to tackle climate change was secured in 2015. Sustainability has climbed higher on the agendas of boards and management creating a sharpened focus on sustainability in M&A as it is increasingly seen as a question of value-generating business development.

    • 09:00

      Environmental legislation – where are we now?

      Environmental issues can significantly affect the valuation of a deal for a prospective buyer. Key planned environmental changes and environmental compliance will affect businesses who will need to evaluate compliance and obligations associated with single-use plastics, decarbonisation in packaging and recycling. How will industries support the Net Zero ambition?

    • 09:20

      The energy transition

      The unstoppable pressure of ESG and climate concerns is transforming all parts of the commodities value chain, from electricity supply to raw material extraction. Oil and gas has been the hardest hit sector due to the oil price crash in early March 2020, but not wholly due to the pandemic.

      The more far-reaching theme of how to negotiate the energy transition and remain attractive to ESG conscious investors has put pressure on smaller listed players who may need to merge? Private equity-backed companies will need to redefine exit strategies, while the oil majors will seek to diversify from oil. The industry is increasingly committed to meeting climate change targets and this is firmly on the agenda as the economy recovers.  

      Power and utilities has fared better than oil and gas, acting a relative haven. Renewable deals have experienced a fairly limited impact during the pandemic as COVID-19 provided a unique opportunity to accelerate the energy transition.

      Iti Jain
      Vice President - Private Equity, Siemens
      Arnaud Jossien
      Managing Director, BNP Paribas
    • 10:00

      Autonomous vehicle deals

      First came the cars, then came the components and underlying technologies that make them move.  There has been a stampede of electrical vehicle-related business deals with expectations that EVs will replace cars and trucks that run on fossil fuels. However, the structuring of these deals has been a bumpy ride with many choosing the public markets with varying levels of success.

    • 10:40


    • 11:00

      Recycle revolution

      In June 2020, Amazon announced the $2bn Climate Pledge Fund to support the development of sustainable and decarbonising technologies and services that will enable Amazon and other companies to meet the goals set by The Climate Pledge. JB Straubel, co-founder of Tesla, has received funding for Redwood Materials, a mineral and phone batteries recycler.  

      The funding comes as M&A in the recycling market is expected to heat up, but concerns that the industry needs to be consistent as well as profitable may dampen investor interest. Regulation compelling the use of recycled plastic is high on the mind of several mid-sized companies; some of which argue that it would help make plastic recycling more profitable. How can high investor interest turn to investors putting their money into plastic recycling?

    • 11:20

      Airline M&A

      Airlines were hard hit in 2020 with many country borders closing from April to June due to travel restrictions. The sector is unlikely to recover until a vaccine in produced and distributed. The few sales that were afoot before the crisis have been put on hold until better times. Large players could mop up distressed assets, but rescue efforts are more likely than mergers, as even the bigger players are struggling, with the problem exacerbated by the second spike in COVID-19.

    • 11:40

      100 Black Interns

      Diversity and inclusion initiatives are transforming the M&A industry, but in a recent study, 88% of respondents felt that their industry is poorly represented with women and people of colour. Diversity and inclusion have proven to increase financials, bring more diverse ideas to the table and attract more diverse job candidates. Despite these benefits, surveys show that investors are still not directing their goals towards racial or gender diversity. 

      #100blackinterns seeks to change the face of investment management by offering internships to Black students across the UK to help kick start their career in investment management. 200 of the industry's leading players are participating as a way to source a more diverse group of talent for the long-term. 

    • 12:20

      Midday break

  • Private Capital

    The growth seen in private equity assets has been indicative of deal flow in recent years with sponsors able to raise and deploy capital into opportunities at a record rate. Expectations are for a more active role for private equity in the next M&A cycle. The pursuit of take-privates looks set to continue. Whether SPACs will arrive in Europe and redefine the IPO exit. Abundant liquidity in debt markets supplemented with private credit. Outlook for infrastructure M&A is positive especially around digital and logistics assets.

    • 13:20

      Private equity outlook

      Growth in private equity has been indicative of deal flow in recent years. Sponsors swiftly made-up lost ground at the end of 2020 after the global pandemic caused M&A markets to plummet. Buyout funds sitting on dry powder claimed more than one-fifth of overall M&A activity gaining ground over strategic players. These trends contributed towards one of the biggest buyouts in history; Cinven and Advent’s EUR 17bn takeover of ThyssenKrupp’s elevator unit.  

    • 14:00


      The trend of public-to-private transactions is not a recent one, but has grown in recent years. Although private markets were not unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic and in the short-term private equity firms focused on supporting their existing portfolio companies. But as global financial continue to feel the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic, the recent fall in capital market valuations has made public companies an attractive prospect for private equity sponsors who are looking at their pipeline and to deploy their record levels of dry powder. Several take-private deals have completed in 2020 including the successful bid to buy Madrid-listed telecoms company Masmovil by private equity firms Cinven, KKR and Providence Equity Partners for €5bn.

    • 14:20


    • 15:00


      Traditional PE exits have slowed significantly since March 2020. Hundreds of sponsor-backed companies preparing for imminent exit found themselves waiting: unable to exit, but with additional time to prepare. It’s expected that traditional leveraged buyouts will remain difficult with many taking more unusual steps to prepare to exit.  

      For some the exit route has included the use of special purpose acquisition companies (SPAC) targets to help getting deals done across sectors, particularly in the US. SPAC deals have totalled $21.8bn so far in 2020, with $53.7bn in total announced deals which have not closed yet. 

      The impact of COVID-19 has given sponsors and advisors time to understand which strategies can help create value. 

    • 15:40

      A day in the life

      A private equity CIO shares their experience of a typical day during working from home and their outlook for private equity trends in 2021.  

  • 16:00

    Chair's closing remarks

    John West
    John West
    Managing Editor EMEA, Acuris

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