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Why private equity hasn't hit the London Stock Exchange yet this year

Why private equity hasn't hit the London Stock Exchange yet this year

 


Saturday May 18, 2024 6:00 a.m.

A wave of private equity bids was expected – but so far it has been corporates that have led the City's takeover spree.

As private equity firms bounced around London hearing advisors and lawyers late last year, top dealmakers looked forward to a return to action.

Buyout houses had been plunged into a period of calm as rising interest rates drove up the cost of financing transactions and inflation sent public market valuations tumbling.

But with London-listed companies remaining cheap and the prospect of a rate cut not far away, a bargain hunt on the London Stock Exchange seemed imminent.

With a few notable exceptions, notably Thoma Bravo's 4.3 billion offer for Dark trace and the 1.3 billion Blackstones are attacking Hipgnosis, but this frenzy has not yet materialized.

As we continue to see private equity firms scour the market for acquisition opportunities and engage in initial offering discussions, it has been difficult to meet expectations for advice value directors and shareholders of target companies, said Michael Nicholson, head of mergers and acquisitions at investment bank Peel Hunt. City AM.

As we continue to see private equity firms scour the market for acquisition opportunities and engage in discussions on initial offerings, it has been difficult to meet the value expectations of boards and CEOs. shareholders of target companies.

Michael Nicholson, head of mergers and acquisitions at investment bank Peel Hunt

Corporate buyers have instead gone wild, making more than 20 firm offers for UK-listed companies so far this year, accounting for around 80 per cent of the market by value and volume, according to Peel Hunt.

Some of London's biggest listed companies are now firmly in play after corporate takeover bids, with Anglo American, Virgin Money, Redrow and DS Smith all falling in the crosshairs of their rivals' bids.

Corporate appetite has supported a wave of takeover bids for larger companies. Nine companies worth more than a billion are now on offer, compared to just one at the same time last year.

Although private equity appetite is there, bankers Peel Hunt said businesses have not been held back by pricing fears.

Foreign and domestic companies have become significantly more active since the start of the year. This is because, among other things, they have taken advantage of the current window of opportunity to make deals before the election season kicks off on both sides of the Atlantic,” adds Nicholson.

Similar problems derailed a wave of deals in the private equity sector last year. Apollo's bids for Wood Group and THG, owner of City AM, for example, were repeatedly rejected by boards before the company finally gave up.

While “well-capitalized companies are back in the game,” says Laura Ackroyd, mergers and acquisitions associate at Herbert Smith Freehills, “private equity has so far remained subdued.

Private equity bidders are still very present in the market; but they are grappling with rising expectations for bonuses from boards and shareholders to offset market undervaluation, she says. City AM

Behind the scenes, one lawyer said the firms are very active and evaluating a number of potential targets, and they still have a mandate to deploy capital quickly.

But with ongoing efforts to revive the flow of cash into the public markets and growing hopes for a rebound in the UK economy, many boards and shareholders now appear willing to wait for higher prices rather than sell at a low price.

Sources

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2/ https://www.cityam.com/why-private-equity-is-yet-to-pounce-on-the-london-stock-exchange-this-year/

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