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Major moves in the M&A arena

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A number of significant mergers and acquisitions have taken place during the past year, while others have fallen flat or are still pending.

From the emergency takeover of Credit Suisse by UBS to the completion of Perpetual’s acquisition of Pendal, 2023 was another year of significant mergers and acquisitions.

But while some deals have been successfully completed this year, others have faltered or failed completely. Here’s a look back at some major moves in the M&A space in 2023:

Completed deals

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Perpetual acquires Pendal

Perpetual completed its $2.2 billion acquisition of Pendal in January, creating a “global leader in multi-boutique asset management with significant scale, diversified investment strategies, world-class ESG capabilities and a stronger global distribution capability”.

The deal, which was first announced in August 2022, faced a number of speed bumps along the way, including an unsolicited takeover offer for Perpetual by Regal Partners.

AMP offloads divisions

AMP completed the sale and transfer of its Collimate Capital international infrastructure equity business to DigitalBridge in February this year for a total of $582 million.

Meanwhile, after a number of delays, the sale of AMP Capital’s real estate and domestic infrastructure equity business to Dexus Funds Management was finally completed on 30 November at a base purchase price of $225 million.

UBS rescues Credit Suisse

In the midst of the banking crisis earlier this year, UBS agreed to acquire its rival Credit Suisse in a $5 billion “emergency rescue” brokered by the Swiss government.

UBS later outlined a new operating model and leadership team, with the combined firm operating across five business divisions, seven functions, and four regions.

Regal picks up PM Capital

Regal announced in November it has entered into an agreement to buy investment management company PM Capital in a deal worth up to $150 million.

The $150 million purchase price includes upfront cash consideration of $20 million and scrip consideration of approximately $130 million in converting shares.

Deals still pending

ANZ’s acquisition of Suncorp blocked

Last July, ANZ announced that it would acquire Suncorp Bank for $4.9 billion in a deal that the big four bank said would accelerate the growth of its retail and commercial businesses.

But in August this year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced that it has decided not to grant merger authorisation for the deal.

ANZ filed an appeal against the ACCC’s decision. At a hearing in early December, counsel Ruth Higgins SC told the Australian Competition Tribunal that the ACCC decision was made in error because it lacked “diffident non-satisfaction”, or a lack of confidence.

Woodside and Santos merger on the cards

Woodside Energy Group and Santos confirmed on 7 December that they have entered into preliminary discussions regarding a potential merger, but both companies have stressed that there is no certainty that a transaction will actually take place.

The merger would lead to the creation of a “bigger, better, deeper, stronger” entity which will be taken more seriously on the global stage, according to Morningstar senior equities analyst Mark Taylor.

Japanese financial services giant inks Link deal

Link Group announced in mid-December that it had entered into a scheme implementation deed to be taken over by a subsidiary of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) in a deal worth $1.2 billion.

MUFG subsidiary the Trust Bank has agreed to acquire 100 per cent of shares in Link by way of a scheme of arrangement. If the scheme is approved, Link shareholders stand to receive $2.10 in cash and a 16-cent dividend per share.

Canadian firm Dye & Durham previously pursued a takeover of Link beginning in December 2021 before the two firms ended their discussions a year later.

Failed deals

Pacific Current takeover bids fall through

In July, Regal and GQG Partners both separately outlined their intentions to acquire multi-boutique asset management firm Pacific Current Group.

But in September, Regal indicated that it had been “consistently disappointed with the engagement by the Pacific Current board” since submitting its initial proposal in March and subsequently withdrew its offer.

Pacific Current announced in November that the process of reviewing strategic transactions had not resulted in a binding offer that could be recommended to shareholders.

AustralianSuper leads charge against Origin takeover

Brookfield and EIG’s $20 billion takeover bid for Origin Energy was defeated in early December after failing to receive necessary support from shareholders.

The vote represented a victory for AustralianSuper, Origin’s single largest shareholder with a stake of more than 17 per cent and the biggest opponent of the deal.

The super fund repeatedly argued that Brookfield and EIG’s offer was “substantially below” the $300 billion superannuation fund’s estimate of Origin’s long-term value.

Perpetual turns down WHSP offer

Also in December, global financial services firm Perpetual announced that it rejected a $3 billion takeover offer from Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Company (WHSP).

In a statement to the ASX, Perpetual explained that it had rejected the proposal because it “materially undervalues” the firm and its corporate trust and wealth management businesses.

Perpetual also suggested that the offer introduces “significant execution and operational risk over a protracted implementation period, and consequently may have negative value implications for Perpetual shareholders”.

Major moves in the M&A arena

A number of significant mergers and acquisitions have taken place during the past year, while others have fallen flat or are still pending.

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Jon Bragg

Jon Bragg

Jon Bragg is a journalist for Momentum Media's Investor Daily, nestegg and ifa. He enjoys writing about a wide variety of financial topics and issues and exploring the many implications they have on all aspects of life.

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