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Gas, Renewables Deals Drive Soaring Power & Utilities M&A

November 19, 2018, 08:29 AM
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A surge in gas and renewables deals in the third quarter of 2018 saw global power and utilities year-to-date deal value rise to a record $241.8 billion, according to the EY Power transactions and trends: Q3 2018 (PTT). Despite ongoing regulatory uncertainty and geopolitical tension, the latest EY Global Capital Confidence Barometer (CCB) also indicates that 57% of global sector executives expect to pursue a deal in the next year.

Following a record start to the year for M&A, deal activity across the sector remained buoyant despite a 25% quarter-on-quarter decline to US$61.9b from $83 billion. Gas utilities transactions reached an all-time quarter high in 3Q18, representing 59% of global deal value ($36.5 billion), with more than half (51%) of those deals conducted in the Americas ($18.3 billion). All regions continued to pursue investment in renewables, with 58 deals accounting for 41% of global deal volume. In Europe, renewables represented 78% of deal value (US$8.1b) and underpinned a weaker-than-expected quarter.

“The appetite for dealmaking remains robust among global power and utilities companies, particularly as the sector continues to seek investments in clean energy and emerging technologies. But with 39% of respondents to the latest EY Capital Confidence Barometer citing regulatory and geopolitical headwinds as the biggest risk to dealmaking over the next 12 months, ongoing trade tensions, in particular, have the potential to derail market outcomes," said Miles Huq, EY Global Power & Utilities Transactions Leader. "This calls for the introduction of tightened regulatory controls in what is an increasingly complex." environment.”

Renewable energy and gas utilities deals dominate across the globe

Deal value in the Americas saw a 7% increase quarter-on-quarter to $28.8 bilion, representing nearly half (46%) of total global deal value. The third quarter demonstrated continued investment appetite for renewable energy assets amounting to $4.5 bilion, including Consolidated Edison’s announced $2.1 bilion acquisition of assets from Sempra Energy – further highlighting the impact of ongoing shareholder activism in the Americas. The US remained the top investment destination in the region, with 96% of deal value generated in the US market.

Despite a 78% decline in deal value in Europe to $10.1 billion, offshore wind offered financial investors scale and strong returns, with US-based Global Infrastructure Partners agreeing to acquire a 50% stake in a 1.2 GW offshore wind farm from Danish company Ørsted A/S. The conclusion of negotiations among the 28 EU Member States around the future framework of the electricity market is expected to strengthen investment certainty into Q4.

Economic confidence boosts sector dealmaking prospects

Looking ahead, the CCB indicates that sector leaders remain confident in the economy. With another year of strong GDP growth forecast, 86% of global power and utilities executives expect to see improving growth conditions over the next 12 months.

Huq says: “While power and utilities companies have seen stagnant growth due to rising energy efficiency and more distributed energy, interest rates remain at historic lows and confidence is growing around access to capital. Rising stock market and equity valuations are providing high stock currency for dealmaking, which in turn is prompting many companies to transact. Private equity firms are also showing interest in the sector. In this dynamic landscape, businesses are beginning to embrace disruption instead of seeing it as a barrier to growth.”


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