After 18 months of pervasive gloom, dealmakers are increasingly more positive about the M&A environment, according to the twice yearly ACG-Thomson Reuters DealMakers Survey. The latest survey results, released at ACG InterGrowth® 2010 on May 5, reveal a sunnier sentiment about the dealmaking environment. While the last three surveys were consistently dreary, with more than 80% of dealmakers reporting a fair to poor M&A environment, the most recent survey reports that 85% of dealmakers expect an increase in M&A activity in the next six months. A year ago, only 56% predicted an increase. The survey, by the ACG and Thomson Reuters reflects responses from nearly 700 investment bankers, private equity professionals, corporate development officers, lawyers, accountants and business consultants in March and April 2010. Here are a few highlights:
Eighty percent of survey respondents identified the current environment as a buyer's market. 97% of corporate professionals expect strategic investments to accelerate in 2010.
The greatest drag on M&A activity today is sellers unwilling to sell at multiples offered, according to 38% of dealmakers. This is followed by the credit crunch, which has steadily decreased in importance as the biggest obstacle to M&A activity (27% today vs. 29% at year-end 2009, 33% one year ago and 43% 18 months ago.)
Thirty percent of private equity executives say that this year they expect the majority of their portfolio companies to experience job growth.
In the past 12 months, 35% of private equity firms say they have marked down their portfolio company values, 43% have held values steady, and 22% have marked them up.
Portfolio companies are showing signs of improvement. Seventy-four percent are performing above their prior year EBITDA, while 26% are performing below last year's EBITDA.
Some 53% of private equity respondents are concerned about the public's perception of private equity. This is an increase from 47% in December 2009.
Three quarters of private equity firms are concerned about a draft U.S. bill that would require advisors of private equity funds and hedge funds to register with the SEC, thus forcing more disclosure to regulators and investors.
A complete report on the survey results may be viewed here.