Big deals are back: Q2 Canadian M&A roundup

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TORONTO, July 26, 2013 — Despite a 62% increase in M&A activity in value terms over the previous quarter, Q2 2013 was the second quietest quarter since Q2 2010, according to the latest PwC Capital Markets Flash. Deal volume was only up by 10%, the value increase being driven by the return of big deals (over $1 billion) and an increase of 23% in average reported deal values excluding the big acquisitions.

While real estate continued to be the top target industry by value in Q2, Sobeys’ C$5.8 billion purchase of Safeway’s Canadian assets– the quarter’s biggest deal – and two deals over $1 billion in the forestry industry, resulted in these two sectors becoming the second and third most active industries by deal value. Loblaw's C$12.4 billion acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart stores announced on July 15 will keep the food retail among the top sectors in Q3.

Commenting on the food retail sector, Calle Johnson, Deals Director, PwC, says “These deals are necessary to demonstrate growth in a mature market and compete against the big box retailers from the US. The market is looking at the remaining Canadian competitors and a number of potential retail targets in both grocery and pharmacy across Canada, as this wave of consolidation is not yet complete.”

Regarding the forestry sector, two of the largest deals come from Brookfield and associated investors returning timber assets into the hands of strategic buyers. Weyerhaeuser picked up Longview Timber for $2.65 billion and Kapstone Kraft Paper took Longview Fibre Paper and Packaging for$1.03 billion.

Ringing in with telecom
While announced in a previous quarter, Q2 saw Bell finally obtain regulatory approval for its acquisition of Astral Media in exchange for a commitment to support the Canadian broadcast sector to the tune of almost $250 million.

“What the regulators required of Bell to protect the market is groundbreaking,” says Ken Goodwin, Deals Partner and member of PwC’s Media and Telecom team. “The regulatory environment certainly swayed in favour of consumers and away from capital markets and shareholders.”

The bigger story in the sector hit at the end of June when Verizon erupted in the media with a C$700 million bid for WIND Mobile, in a move clearly not unrelated to the 700MHz spectrum auction slated for January 2014. “The possible entry of Verizon is the biggest potential disruption in the sector –challenging The Big Three incumbents across all aspects of the Canadian wireless market, while providing extra cellular options for consumers,” says Goodwin.

Pension funds – the global search for yield
Canadian pension funds continued to be one of the country’s most active investors in Q2 – having purchased a German airport, a European movie theatre chain, and a variety of Australian real estate assets.

“The world is taking notice of the Canadian pension funds’ performance and referencing their model, while others are looking to team up with them,” says Richard Pay, Deals Partner, PwC. “The opportunity to partner with global counterparts will enable them to make innovative investments and mitigate the risk of acquiring assets in emerging markets or locations in which they don’t have direct experience.”

Looking forward
Julian Brown, Deals Partner, and PwC Corporate Finance Leader for the Americas, says “While Q2 was a welcome uplift from Q1, we are still well below post-crash levels of activity in the Canadian M&A market in value terms. Given the importance of the natural resources sector to our economy and the expected lack of relevant transactions in this sector in the near term, other sectors will have to make up a lot of ground if we are to return to normal activity levels.”

PwC’s Capital Markets Flash Report is available at http://www.pwc.com/ca/deals. A copy is also available from the media contacts. Note, all dollar values are in American in the Capital Markets Flash report unless indicated otherwise.

About PwC’s Deal Team
PwC’s Deal Team (www.pwc.com/ca/deals) helps clients to achieve deal success — from concept to close and beyond. As part of the world’s largest Transaction Advisory practice1, the PwC Canada Deals Team is your gateway to an exciting new world of emerging M&A opportunities.

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About PwC Canada
PwC Canada helps organizations and individuals create the value they’re looking for. More than 5,700 partners and staff in offices across the country are committed to delivering quality in assurance, tax, consulting and deals services. PwC Canada is a member of the PwC network of firms with more than 180,000 people in 158 countries. Find out more by visiting us at www.pwc.com/ca.

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1 Source: Kennedy; “Business Advisory Services Marketplace 2012”; © BNA Subsidiaries, LLC. Reproduced under license.