M&A Industry Trends in Switzerland

Expect a powerful rebound in dealmaking – but keep a close eye on the fundamentals

It’s not long since we published our last insights into M&A industry trends, but certain developments emerging from the dust of COVID-19 merit a return visit. In a nutshell: dealmaking has slowed in the year ‘COVID-20’, but as 2021 dawns, it looks set to rebound with a vengeance. Things will get lively, but whether you’re on the buying or selling side, you need to act with urgency but keep a close eye on the fundamentals – or risk leaving value on the table.

Some takeaways:

  • Deal value in Switzerland was way down in 2020, with a lack of megadeals
  • But signs that appetite is still there, with more smaller but less transformational deals
  • 2020 values backwards in all sectors apart from financial services  and industrial manufacturing
  • Swiss dealmaking continues to be dominated by corporate activity
  • Ingredients are there for a rebound: plentiful sources of attractive funding,  and the need to transform through dealmaking

Learn more about M&A trends in Switzerland and our Deals expectations in the blogpost by Simon Bradford.

 

“COVID-19 has been an opportunity to fast-forward and see where transformation is headed. Many companies have been surprised to see the gaps in their capabilities, and will now be keen to fill them with acquisitions.”

Marc SchmidliPartner, Deals and Valuations Leader, PwC Switzerland

Industry takeaways

pharmaceutical

“In addition to creating shorter-term winners and losers, COVID-19 has accentuated and accelerated more fundamental developments in the health industries. We expect innovation-led M&A to continue for large pharma companies, with private equity stepping in to create value from carve-outs and divestitures and drive consolidation in specific subsectors.”

Luca Borrelli - Director, Pharma and Life Sciences at PwC Switzerland
  • Health industries remains an attractive industry for investors, and we expect active dealmaking to continue.
  • Adoption of digital technologies is prompting large pharma to refocus on innovation-led value creation, while healthcare services are moving towards a more consumer-driven health and wellbeing operating model for service delivery.
  • The pandemic will create winners and losers. Successful vaccine developers will use cash and market position to reshape the competitive landscape, while certain private hospitals, clinics and medical device companies offering fewer elective procedures may experience consolidation and restructuring.
  • Medical devices, vaccines, therapies and diagnostics connected to pandemic response and future preparedness are expected to continue to have attractive value creation stories and become targets for acquisitions and tie-ups.

Claude Fuhrer

Partner, Deals Strategy & Operations Leader, Zurich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 14 23

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Luca Borrelli

Director, Pharma and Life Sciences, Zurich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 22 78

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travel

“COVID-19 has hit traditional players in many areas of the consumer market hard, and at the same time has accelerated digitalisation, innovation and ESG-fuelled change. Add unprecedented liquidity levels to the mix and we can expect to see lively deal activity in the months to come – both transformational and distress-driven.”

Martin Frey - Partner, Corporate Finance / M&A at PwC Switzerland
  • Portfolio redefinitions continue to drive M&A activity, with large retailers and fast-moving consumer goods companies showing resilience and remaining focused on value creation strategies. Dealmaking continues through a combination of acquisitions in growing categories, channels, and markets or through divestitures of non-core business components and planned exits from non-strategic markets.
  • Accelerating trends include digitalisation, direct-to-consumer sales, convergence of technology with in-store experiences, contactless delivery and payment options, and ESG factors such as ethical supply chain and brand management. These trends are creating opportunities for further deal activity as businesses look to embed resilience or acquire disruptors.
  • High levels of liquidity through 2021 are expected to continue to fuel M&A activity, partnerships and collaborations, a greater number of IPOs, and a rise in restructuring-led activity in consumer markets.

Martin Frey

Partner, Corporate Finance / M&A, Zurich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 15 37

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eur

“COVID-19 has accelerated the transition to zero carbon, increasingly outside Europe as well. With two basic options available – pursue legacy approaches as cost-efficiently as possible or fully embracing new net zero service offerings and business models – there’s plenty of potential for reshuffling by way of mergers and acquisitions.”

Marc Schmidli - Partner, Deals and Valuations Leader at PwC Switzerland
  • The transformation to net zero continues to have a significant impact on the energy, utilities and resources (EU&R) industry and is a key driver of M&A deal activity and capital availability. Four investor pools are emerging: legacy optimisation, net-zero rent, net-zero growth and net-zero pivot.
  • Just as COVID-19 affected geographies and sectors differently, so will the recovery. The oil price shock continues to affect the oil and gas value chain, with downstream assets and offshore drillers feeling the brunt of the initial impact as assets are sold or flagged for divestment or closure. We expect exploration and production assets to be next, followed by oilfield services.
  • The complexity of the decarbonisation agenda, combined with an asymmetric economic recovery, will create opportunities for partnerships and investments in technologies. M&A will likely play a key role.

Marc Schmidli

Partner, Deals and Valuations Leader, Zurich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 15 64

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Manuel Berger

Director, Deals Energy, Zurich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 23 95

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computer

“Technology has led the stock market rebound, and with good reason: technology, media and telecoms have proven resilient in the face of COVID-19 challenges, and will continue to advance as the implementation of new technology accelerates. There’s also plenty of scope for consolidation, so expect lively dealmaking going forward.”

Vincent Lüscher - Senior Manager, Deals Technology, Media & Telecommunications at PwC Switzerland
  • Certain sub-sectors of the Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) industry have become more attractive to investors during the COVID-19 downturn, in particular: recurring-revenue telecoms and digital infrastructure businesses; video games; video and music streaming; technology software and services; telehealth and health IT; and digital payments and fintech.
  • Pre-existing trends have accelerated as companies look to shift to all things digital, e-commerce displaces traditional stores and consumers hasten their switch to streaming over traditional media.
  • The movement towards digitalisation, remote working and e-commerce will spur companies to use M&A to improve their technology capabilities.

Alain Durand

Director, Deals Technology, Media & Telecommunications, Geneva, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 91 27

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automotive

“With many areas of manufacturing and automotive facing an uphill struggle for revenues, players will need to consider deals as a means of taking control. We anticipate M&A opportunities as companies seek to reinvent their models to meet new customer demands and growing stakeholder expectations around ESG and non-traditional value.”

Michael Huber - Director, Corporate Finance / M&A at PwC Switzerland
  • Extended government support schemes cushioned the pandemic’s impact on industrial manufacturing and automotive (IM&A) companies in many parts of the world, but serious concerns about supplier distress remain in industries where demand is unlikely to recover for several years, such as commercial aerospace.
  • Consolidation and vertical-integration strategies are also under consideration. For example, smaller suppliers are evaluating coming to market to address the challenges of accelerated transformation, particularly in the automotive sector. Larger manufacturing businesses are considering expanding their share of the value pool through vertical integrations.
  • Another hotspot for M&A activity will be targets that give companies access to the innovative technologies that will help them keep up with industry trends, regulations and ESG commitments. These technologies vary by industry, but include batteries, autonomous vehicles, additive manufacturing, green tech materials, and the tools to monitor and report ESG performance, particularly around energy use, supply chain resiliency, and health and safety. This has sparked significant interest recently in the construction materials segment.

Michael Huber

Director, Corporate Finance / M&A, Zürich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 1542

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Sascha Beer

Partner, Corporate Finance / M&A Leader, Zurich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 15 39

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banking
  • Low interest rates, regulatory measures, digitalisation, the move towards alternative providers and platforms, and the increasing economic impact of COVID-19 will lead to higher levels of M&A activity in the financial services industry in 2021. Financial services corporates that are able to leverage the situation to strengthen their market position will experience a positive impact, while those that need to react, or even restructure their operations, will suffer a negative effect.
  • In the banking sector, we expect deal activity to gain further momentum as banks, suffering from the economic impact of COVID-19, take measures to strengthen their balance sheets and focus on optimising capital ratios through steps such as disposing of non-core businesses or distressed assets, portfolios and business segments. Many buy-side opportunities also exist, with strategic investors such as banks and other financial institutions seeking strategic and opportunistic mergers and acquisitions and well-funded private equity investors constantly searching for investments.
  • Structural profitability pressure will drive consolidation of a highly fragmented financial services industry. Banks, insurance companies and asset managers will continue to seek yield in a challenging low interest rate environment, focusing on M&A opportunities to achieve scale or to further develop their business models. Fintech companies will continue to attract investors, either to support digitalisation as part of a business-model transformation or as portfolio companies for corporate venture capital funds.
  • Ongoing consolidation in the asset management sector will likely accelerate as companies seek economies of scale to stabilise profitability. The transparency and pressure on fees and margins will lead not only to internal optimisation measures with a focus on reducing costs, but also to external solutions such as takeovers and mergers. Such deals, with the cooperation of both strategic and private equity investors, aim to make operating platforms more accessible and efficient. We expect investors will be attracted to new technologies such as robo-advice and algorithm-based investment advice. We also expect investors to increase their allocations to certain asset classes, such as alternative investments, infrastructure funds and ESG-focused funds.
  • The wealth management sector, by contrast, is more consolidated. Along with more stable ownership, this suggests the sector will experience less M&A activity on an international level in 2021.

Christoph Baertz

Partner, Deals Financial Services, Zurich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 14 18

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Marc Schmidli

Marc Schmidli

Partner, Deals and Valuations Leader, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 15 64

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