Standard Life Investments

Press Release

The M&A Cycle Speeds Up

06  May  2014

Standard Life Investments, the global investment manager, believes there will be further expansion of mergers and acquisition (M&A) activity into 2015, on the back of an improvement in the availability of funding, a reduction in economic uncertainty and continued pressure on businesses to reduce costs in a slow growth environment.

The latest edition of Global Perspective examines some of the key factors behind the recent recovery in M&A activity, and forecasts that activity will spread out from the USA into other regions. Drivers for more M&A in 2014-15 will be led by improved business confidence, based on the recovery in the global economy, especially the escape from recession across Europe, combined with continued pricing pressure in a world of low nominal GDP growth.

Andrew Milligan, Head of Global Strategy, Standard Life Investments, said:

Andrew Milligan

"In recent months, there has been considerable debate about whether or not companies will begin to invest, putting cash to work. We believe that as cyclical forces start to take hold across the global economy, as business confidence improves, and as financing becomes easier, so the pickup in M&A will continue. This could be a way for some companies to boost market share, either in a sector where pricing or regulatory pressures are high, or in order to gain an advantage in a fast growing area.

"The upshot should be positive for stock market valuations and client portfolios. Following an upturn in activity in the US, we consider increased M&A in Europe, Asia and emerging markets will follow suit. M&A should also broaden out, away from media, autos, the internet and beverages towards, for example, finance, real estate, software and telecoms. Further improvements in credit availability in Europe, more confidence about Asia's economic prospects and further regulatory pressures would all be examples of triggers which would generate additional activity into 2015."

The report was co-authored by Andrew Milligan, Head of Global Strategy, and Stan Pearson, Head of European Equities, at Standard Life Investments.