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CMS European M&A Outlook

Scanning the horizon: European M&A Outlook 2018

Sep 2018

Welcome to the sixth edition of the CMS European M&A Outlook, published in association with Mergermarket.

The optimism amongst dealmakers we reported in autumn last year was well-founded: the market has remained buoyant but the question now is can this optimism survive in the current fractious international political environment?

Our forward-looking survey paints a more nuanced picture than 12 months ago. For many, the sunny uplands of M&A activity are still in sight with cash-rich domestic and international acquirers, an ongoing drive for consolidation and an appetite for large transformational deals driving the market in the year ahead. Others, however, question this optimism and those expecting European M&A to slow and financial conditions to worsen have multiplied, reflecting more moderate GDP growth but perhaps more significantly, concern around geopolitical risk and stock market volatility.

Key findings from our research include:

  • M&A confidence rising. Nearly three-quarters of respondents are considering a deal in the next 12 months and nearly 25% expect European M&A to increase significantly (both up from last year’s survey) showing confidence in the market is still robust.
  • Appetite high among overseas buyers. Respondents predict that overseas buyers will show growing interest in the European market with the overwhelming majority (92%) expecting an increase in the number of inbound transactions and nearly two-thirds anticipating a further up-tick in aggregate inbound M&A in value for the year ahead.
  • Financing conditions remain buoyant. Financing options have multiplied as bank lending credit standards and terms and conditions continue to ease. Debt capital markets are more liquid and private debt and PE funds continue to draw in capital.

Our features in this year’s report include articles on “Key trends affecting the European compliance and regulatory environment” and, of particular interest in these current uncertain times, “The rise of protectionist measures” within the EU and other European jurisdictions.

We hope you find the European M&A Outlook interesting and by all means share the report with your colleagues. Our annual CMS European M&A Study will be published in spring 2019 when we will report back on how this buoyant market has impacted M&A transaction terms and conditions.

CMS European M&A Outlook 2018


Portrait of Helen Rodwell
Helen Rodwell
Managing Partner
Portrait of John Hammond
John Hammond, M.A. (Oxon)
Portrait of Roman Tarlavski
Roman Tarlavski
Portrait of Vincent Dirckx
Vincent Dirckx
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