• Top five MENA target countries by deal value were UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Oman
• Domestic deals driving M&A activity in region, making up more than half of deal volume in first nine months of the year
• Deal activity fueled by business-friendly reforms, rising oil prices and the easing of government travel restrictions
14 November 2022: The MENA region witnessed 524 deals worth US$55.2 billion during the first nine months of the year, according to the latest EY MENA M&A Insights report.
Rising inflationary pressures, dampening economic demand and global market disruptions resulted in moderate growth in deal activity of 6% year-on-year (YoY) while deal value slipped by 23% over the same period last year.
According to the report, domestic deals were the main driver of activity in the region, contributing 51% and 33% of the total M&A deal volume and value respectively over the nine-month period.
M&A activity involving private equity (PE) or sovereign wealth funds (SWF) accounted for 35% and 38% of the total deal volume and value respectively across the nine months. The report revealed that cross-border deals made up 49% and 67% of total volume and value respectively over the period. While government-related entity (GRE)-involved deals totaled US$21.0 billion in 9M 2022, accounting for 38% of the total disclosed deal value.
Brad Watson, EY MENA Strategy and Transactions Leader, says:
“Although we are living in uncertain economic times, the MENA region continues to record higher M&A activity, fueled by expected economic growth through higher oil prices and an acceleration in business-friendly reforms. Technology is driving a large number of deals, reflecting the rising digital transformation across industries in the region.”
The top five MENA target countries by deal value were UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Oman
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) remained at the forefront of the MENA region, with 155 deals signed worth US$17.2 billion in the first nine months of 2022. This was followed by Egypt with 99 deals worth US$3.9 billion, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with 58 deals worth US$3.4 billion, Morocco with 22 deals worth US$1.9 billion and Oman, where 10 deals have been inked with a total value of US$0.7 billion.
Overall top five subsectors in the MENA region, by deal value, include transportation, real estate, consumer products, technology, and banking and capital markets.
Anil Menon, Head of MENA M&A and ECM Leader, EY, says:
“What is interesting from these latest results is the increasing M&A activity, not just emanating from traditional markets such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, but also from other countries across the MENA region, namely Egypt, Morocco, Qatar and Oman. Higher crude oil prices, combined with favorable regional government initiatives in attracting investments to the region and MENA investors looking for futuristic investment opportunities in foreign markets will be the major drivers of M&A activity in the region going forward.”
Domestic deals in the MENA region
Domestic M&A activity saw a slight dip of 3% in 9M 2022, with 268 deals signed, compared to 275 deals for the corresponding period last year. The value of deals also dropped, by 48%, amounting to US$18 billion, compared to US$34.6 billion in the opening nine months of 2021. Excluding the deal involving the acquisition of utilities and power assets of Aramco by Air Products and Chemicals Inc (US$12.0 billion) in 9M 2021, deal value went down by 20% in 9M 2022.
Egypt witnessed a surge of 37% in domestic deal activity in terms of deal volume in 9M 2022. The Egyptian government’s decision to sell several state-owned industries to help its struggling economy has attracted Gulf investors into the region.
Over the nine-month period, Ghitha Holding PJSC agreed to acquire Tamween Management LLC for US$2.4 billion; Dubai Creek Harbour was acquired by Emaar Properties in a deal worth US$2.042 billion; Q Holding acquired Reem Investments PJSC for US$1.6 billion; Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund acquired a 16.8% stake in Kingdom Holding Company for US$1.5 billion; and International Holdings Company PJSC; Alpha Dhabi Holding acquired a 17% stake in Aldar Properties PJSC for US$1.452 billion.
Inbound deals to the MENA region
Acceleration in business-friendly reforms, rising oil prices and the easing of government travel restrictions resulted in higher inbound deal volume in the MENA region, with 119 deals in 9M 2022 compared with 105 deals in the corresponding period the previous year.
The UAE continued to be the favored investment destination in 9M 2022 (62 deals worth US$7.4 billion), supported by the reforms to strengthen its business environment, attract foreign investment, and incentivize companies to set up or expand their operations. The technology sector witnessed the highest deal activity in terms of deal volume and out of 37 technology deals, 23 deals were flowing into the UAE, reflecting the regional government’s appetite for digital transformation
USA-based entities are most active in MENA region
Entities based in the United States of America (USA) led the deal activity in the region, in terms of volume, taking part in around 30% of inbound activity with a particular focus on technology-related investments. Canada, however, took the top spot in value (four deals worth US$5.7 billion), largely driven by the US$5 billion deal signed in June by Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec to acquire a 22% stake in Jebel Ali Free Zone, a 22% stake in National Industries Park, and a 22% stake in Jebel Ali Port.
The top five subsectors by deal value were: other transportation (US$5 billion), power and utilities (US$1.7 billion), technology (US$1.5 billion), chemicals (US$0.6 billion), and consumer products (US$0.4 billion).
Outbound deals from the MENA region
In the opening nine months of 2022, the region saw 137 outbound deals, which amounted to US$27.2 billion in comparison with 113 deals totaling US$11.9 billion in 9M 2021. The UAE continues to witness the highest number of outbound deals, led by technology, professional firms and services, and real estate, which contributed to 43% of the total outbound deal volume.
The UAE saw the largest outbound deal, signed in May, as Emirates Telecommunications Group Company acquired a 9.8% stake in the UK’s Vodafone Group Plc in a deal worth US$4.398 billion.
The top five outbound target subsectors by deal value were: telecommunications (US$4.4 billion), power and utilities (US$4.4 billion), media and entertainment (US$3.5 billion), chemicals (US$3.2 billion), and airlines (US$2.2 billion).
The report by EY summarizes and tracks announced M&A activity in the MENA market (with MENA being defined and limited to Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the UAE and Yemen). Transactions less than US$5 million and a 5% stake are not considered in the analysis.