The ‘Global Mergers & Acquisitions Review: Full Year 2020/Financial Advisors’ from Refinitiv contains statistics and also rankings for worldwide providers in the M&A marketplace. Despite COVID-19 and Brexit (and everything else), the UK remained at the top in global activity.
Of course, this was led by some significant UK deals in 2020 that drove valuation multiple averages higher. While the Dutch Unilever deal was the largest last year (at £80,000 million, it was more than twice as large as the as China’s Petro China pipeline business, at No. 2), the UK is well represented in the top 10:
4. IHS Markit acquisition by SPGI;
6. Arm acquisition by Nvidia;
10. Willis Towers Watson acquisition by Aon; and
22. O2 acquisition by Virgin Mediq.
The Refinitiv study summarises results in a number of areas directly related to business valuation—confirming the picture that the UK market for valuation services is still centrally controlled by a handful of global financial services and audit ‘brands.’
One exception to this centralization of valuations for financial reporting purposes is in the fairness opinion market. In the EMEA region (still including the UK!), the 10 top providers of announced fairness opinions in 2020 were:
2. JP Morgan;
6. Duff & Phelps;
7. BofA Securities;
9. Lazard; and
Globally, the list reflects strong specialization:
1. CITIC (2019 rank: 8);
2. Duff & Phelps (2019 rank: 1);
3. (tie) Houlihan Lokey (2019 rank: 4);
3. (tie) Stout (2018 rank: tied for 3); and
4. J.P. Morgan (2018 rank: 2).
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