Modest growth predicted for engineering, construction mergers

Small and mid-market deals and construction materials drive activity; U.S. is the most active individual nation.

February 08, 2013 |
Mergers and acquisitions in the construction industry picked up steam in late 20


Though overall 2012 merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in the engineering and construction industry did not meet levels seen in 2011, an uptick in fourth quarter activity points to signs of recovery, according to Engineering Growth, a quarterly analysis of the global engineering and construction industry by consultant PwC US.

“With the continued elevated level of uncertainty through the end of the year, we saw many deal makers staying on the sidelines or engaging in smaller, bolt-on acquisitions. However, as the global engineering and construction sector continues on its path of slow recovery, we remain cautiously optimistic and expect the M&A arena to follow a similar trajectory of modest growth in 2013. Growing infrastructure needs, expanding urbanization, and the need for cleaner, environmentally friendly and sustainable energy and water continue to be the driving forces of M&A activity in the sector,” said H. Kent Goetjen, U.S. engineering and construction leader with PwC.

In 2012, there were 168 deals (with values of $50 million or more) totaling $49.3 billion, compared with 181 transactions worth $73.3 billion in 2011. Overall 2012 M&A volume and value declined compared with 2011 levels, but the sector did see increased activity in the fourth quarter of 2012: 57 deals totaling $13.9 billion, an increase in value and volume compared with the third quarter of 2012 (31 transactions totaling $10.8 billion). 

Despite the slowdown in engineering and construction dealmaking, financial investors continue to slowly gain momentum. In 2012, the participation of financial advisors was higher than the average 10-year rate of about 33 percent of financial acquirers and they were an active participant in some of the largest deals during the year, potentially suggesting signs of recovery and opportunity in the sector. 

Transactions in the construction materials category led deals in the full year of 2012 in both value and volume with 46 deals over $50 million totaling $16.57 billion, outnumbering the construction segment, the usual leader and second in terms of volume in 2012. Multiple large and mega deals throughout 2012, including the only mega-deal in the fourth quarter, involved targets associated with the construction materials segment (notably, cement and concrete), contributing to a 70% increase in value in the segment’s deals over 2011.

The majority of engineering and construction transactions in 2012 were local deals, for both U.S. targets and targets and acquirers from other parts of the world. Asia and Oceania remained the most active region in engineering and construction dealmaking, representing 68 deals totaling $15.09 billion in 2012, followed by Europe and North America. The United States was the most active individual nation, engaging in the largest number of deals and also tending to generate higher deal values due to the relative maturity, size, and financial stability of U.S.-affiliated dealmakers. 

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