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Signs point to increased retail and consumer M&A for remainder of 2013, says PwC US

Despite a slowdown in US retail and consumer merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in the second quarter of 2013, consumer sentiment and retail sales trends remain positive, along with strong corporate balance sheets and availability of private equity "dry powder," which should help trigger M&A activity during the second half of 2013.

According to PwC’s US retail and consumer deals insights Q2 2013 report, in the second quarter of 2013, there were a total of 21 deals worth USD50m or more in the retail and consumer sector, accounting for USD5.4bn in deal value, a 49 per cent decrease in volume and 90 per cent decrease in value from the 41 deals worth USD40.5bn during the second quarter of 2012.
The decrease in deal activity is primarily a result of the lack of large deals in Q2 of 2013 compared to the prior year, during which time there were several large deals. There was only one mega deal (worth more than USD1bn) in the second quarter, as opposed to a trend of four successive quarters with five or more mega deals.
Sequentially, deal activity in the retail and consumer sector declined, with the middle market also seeing declines, partially due to the lingering effect of the abnormally higher deal volume during Q4 of 2012 due to the impending fiscal cliff, along with the several mega deals seen in the first quarter of 2013, according to PwC.
"Coming off the heels of one of the largest retail and consumer deals in history in the first quarter of 2013, the declines we saw in the second quarter will likely be temporary as the pipeline for deals resets from the flurry of activity we’ve seen in the last few quarters," says Leanne Sardiga, partner and PwC’s US retail and consumer deals leader. "The second half of 2013 looks promising for M&A activity in the industry given the recent pick up in businesses starting to come to market for sale, although price expectations and seller timelines continue to be a challenge."
Private equity (PE) activity was slightly above historical levels in the second quarter of 2013, as PE buyers continued to invest in the retail and consumer sector, comprising 24 per cent of deal volume and 38 per cent of deal value, which is relatively consistent with historical averages of 27 per cent and 30 per cent respectively. The apparel, footwear and accessories sub-sectors remained active, representing 20 per cent of PE deal volume, which is above the 15 per cent average seen over the last five years.
The trend towards omnichannel retailing continues to contribute to deal activity in the sector as retailers look at opportunities to transform their business and capabilities, focusing on innovation. Key activity in the omnichannel space in the second quarter included several acquisitions of ecommerce retail service companies. PwC expects to see increased activity in this area as investors see opportunity to gain a competitive advantage through technology for data analytics.
Retail and consumer IPO activity continues the momentum seen in the first quarter, far outpacing levels seen in 2012. Total proceeds in the second quarter of 2013 were USD2.1bn, up 161 per cent from the second quarter of 2012 (proceeds of USD795m) and up 18 per cent from the first quarter of 2013 (proceeds of USD1.8bn). Average deal size continued to increase in the second quarter as well, with an average deal size of USD345m for the six IPOs completed in the quarter, compared to USD292m for the six in the first quarter of 2013. According to PwC, in the overall IPO markets, R&C had the largest one-day average returns of any sector.
"While second quarter activity was relatively slow compared to the activity we’ve been seeing, the deals announced remain consistent with themes PwC has highlighted previously, including private equity investment in retail and activity in non-store retailing. Regionally, we expect to see continued cross-border retail activity as companies try to access certain demographics in the global marketplace," says Sardiga.

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