Corporates optimistic despite banking crisis

The onset of the banking crisis and the subsequent challenges of funding transactions and growth haven’t significantly reduced mid-market corporate appetite for M&A, according to business and financial advisers Grant Thornton.

Grant Thornton’s Securing Finance survey, conducted in tandem with data analyst mergermarket, compares the M&A outlook of 150 companies in September before Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy with attitudes in late October at the height of the banking crisis.

Although the survey indicates that companies are generally pessimistic about securing finance in the current economic climate, with 51 per cent admitting finding bank finance is “difficult” or “very difficult”, the negative sentiment doesn’t appear to have dampened their enthusiasm to close deals.

The findings show that in September, 36 per cent of respondents said they expected to make an acquisition in 2009, and that level only fell to 31 per cent two months later. However, the number of companies with no transactions planned rose from 40 per cent to 48 per cent over the same period, and interest in joint ventures and strategic alliances fell from 13 per cent to zero.

David Brooks, head of M&A at Grant Thornton, commented: “Given the wider market conditions, the appetite for M&A deals is striking. Our ‘stress-testing’ in mid to late October showed businesses appeared relatively immune to the steady trail of bad news from the market but they are focusing on acquisition opportunities rather than putting any faith in relationships with others.

“Mid-market corporates appear to view the banking crisis simply as the latest stage in the credit crunch and while it certainly isn’t helping, it hasn’t had the profound impact that many had thought. You have to admire that optimism, but the economic reality suggests that some companies are dreaming of the opportunities without thinking about finance.”


Marc Barber

Raven Connelly

Marc was editor of GrowthBusiness from 2006 to 2010. He specialised in writing about entrepreneurs, private equity and venture capital, mid-market M&A, small caps and high-growth businesses.

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