In Sunday’s election, Greece re-elected the left-leaning Syriza party headed by former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who will renew his coalition with the nationalist Independent Greeks. Tsipras claims to support the agreement struck in late July between Greece and its creditors. Some observers doubt the government’s ability to meet its commitments under a bailout that has been described as “the most intrusive and punishing set of measures” ever imposed on an EU debtor nation. Others are encouraged by the plan’s commitment to combating cheating and attacking entitlements, which in the long run will produce a healthier Greek economy.
While a Greek recovery remains far from certain, the world economy has sidestepped the ‘doomsday scenarios’ that were being contemplated this summer. Studies predicted that a “disorderly” Greek exit might have resulted in the loss of up to $1.4 trillion in global deal-making through to 2020. Now that the EU has achieved some semblance of stability, the damage (or lack thereof) to European M&A activity can start to be quantified. Has the crisis affected deal-making in Europe? How will it impact European M&A for the rest of the year?
According to a recent MergerMarket report, European M&A activity has remained strong during H1 2015. Total deal value sits at €414.8 billion, which represents a 16% increase from H1 2014. However, the total deal volume of 2,779 is down 15% from the same period last year. Some of the volume decrease can be attributed to the political uncertainty brought on by the crisis. However, the increase in “mega-deals” (worth over €5 billion) helped bolster the total deal value despite there being fewer transactions overall. The report speculates that fears over the crisis helped cause the sharp year-on-year decrease in transatlantic deals. Fortunately, Europe has a full deal pipeline for the remainder of 2015.
In a survey of top corporate executives, a special MergerMarket Spotlight report gauged how the deal-making community was responding to the Greek crisis and how it might affect M&A activity moving forward. At the time of publishing, the respondents reacted negatively to the resignation of then Prime Minister Tsipras, undoing some of the optimism generated by the July bailout agreement. While the business community seems cautious and reticent in the face of continuing political uncertainty, the upcoming election might help quell short-term fears of Greece backsliding into financial turmoil. Despite the hesitation, a majority of the respondents felt that European deal-making activity would increase in the wake of the agreement.
The European economy has continued to make a modest recovery in the first two quarters of 2015 with consistent GDP growth predicted through the rest of the year. Economically, the continent has emerged from the Greek crisis largely unscathed. Barring any unexpected developments or erratic decision-making by the new Greek government, M&A activity should continue unaffected in Europe for the remainder of the year.