Globally, M&A activity in 2018 was subdued as growing geopolitical tensions, trade wars and protectionism led to a more cautious approach from corporates. There were significantly less big-ticket deals conducted over the year.
In Norway, a similar story followed. Fewer major transactions relative to 2017 had an effect on overall deal value, and there were slower periods littered throughout the year, although the pace picked up in the closing months of the year. In spite of global headwinds, the M&A market across the Nordics remains robust, comparatively outperforming continental European markets. Reasons include strong and open economies, stable political conditions and a substantial community of highly skilled professional advisers.
Looking ahead, we expect a strong M&A pipeline in 2019, with demand for high quality assets outstripping supply. This is underpinned by private equity houses with a need to invest, strategic investors with sizeable ‘war chests’ following several years of solid corporate profits, and readily accessible and affordable debt financing. The relatively weak NOK may also contribute to attracting international buyers to Norway.
With a short supply of desirable assets, buyers will need to be flexible and focus on what is important to them in concluding a transaction. This could have an impact on documentation and we may see a greater preference for shorter documents in the sales process.
Across the Nordic region, levels of investment in the technology sector continue to reach new heights, whilst other sectors in Norway that could offer interesting opportunities in 2019 include the rebounding oil services sector, medtech, fintech and consumer banking.
Wiersholm’s M&A team
Our M&A team is one of the most active and highly regarded in the Nordics. We collaborate closely with clients to successfully execute some of the biggest, most complex and challenging transactions in Norway.
Clients value our deep expertise, innovation and proven ability to get challenging deals across the line. We maximise opportunity, identify and manage risk early on and work strategically with our clients to achieve their objectives.
Wiersholm’s recent M&A highlights
In 2018 deals we advised on included:
- Sector Alarm on its simultaneous acquisition of 49.9% of the shares in NOKAS, sale of all the shares in Avarn Security to NOKAS, and acquisition of NOKAS’ small alarms business
- Summa Equity on its acquisition of Norsk Gjenvinning, Norway’s largest and leading recycling company, from Altor Equity Partners
- Visma Group, a leading provider of mission-critical business software to SMBs in the Nordic region, on the acquisition of 100% of the shared in Netherlands-based Raet Group, a specialist in HR cloud software and HR services
- Eni on the merger of Eni Norge and Point Resources to create Vår Energi AS, a leading player in the upstream sector in Norway
- Norske Skog, a Norway-based a manufacturer and distributor of publication paper, on its sale to UK-based hedge fund sponsor Oceanwood Capital Management
- Rolls-Royce on the sale of its commercial marine business, Rolls-Royce Commercial Marine, to Norway-based Kongsberg Gruppen
- Magseis on its acquisition of the seismic technologies business of Fairfield Geotechnologies