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Aerospace & Defense M&A Activity Breaks Record in 2011
Wednesday, February 08, 2012 | PRNewswire

Global aerospace and defense (A&D) merger and acquisition (M&A) value reached a record level in 2011, according to Mission Control , a quarterly analysis of M&A activity in the global A&D sector by PwC US.  Aggregate deal value reached $43.7 billion supported by 341 deals in 2011, compared to total deal value of $21.9 billion and 332 deals in 2010. The 2011 record surpassed the previous A&D deal record of $42 billion in 2007. 

The primary driver of deal value in 2011 was a $16 billion transaction, the largest in sector history. However, volume drivers were broad-based, with higher numbers for small deals (less than $50 million) and mega deals (above $1 billion) alike. A total of six mega deals were completed in 2011, recovering from the recent low of only two such announcements in 2009. This led to an increase in average transaction size, even when removing the impact of the $16 billion deal. There was also a big increase in deals for aerospace targets in 2011, measured on both a volume and value basis, while the number of defense deals decreased.  Aerospace deal multiples also surpassed defense targets.

"We saw a wide-ranging mix of deals in 2011 as global aerospace and defense M&A activity reached record levels. Larger deals became more common, driven by sales of slower-growth defense businesses and private equity exits, while smaller deals drove the bulk of deal volume as major players with ample liquidity focused on acquiring growth," said Scott Thompson, U.S. aerospace and defense leader at PwC. "We anticipate a continued high level of M&A activity in the year ahead, driven partly by strong cash positions and a favorable debt market, particularly in aerospace where the outlook is being boosted by fleet expansion in Asia and strong replacement demand in Western countries. Conversely, global deal activity in the defense sector is increasingly being impacted by the wave of government cutbacks in key markets stemming from fiscal retrenchment. The uncertain outlook is causing defense contractors to further globalize in the face of growing competition for a shrinking pool of business. These trends will play a major role in deal activity as the year unfolds."

As expected, U.S. entities were involved in the vast majority of A&D deals in 2011, whether measured by value or number of deals. The high number of larger U.S. deals drove an increase in the U.S. share of total deal value in 2011, exceeding historical norms.  This reflects the larger number of big companies based in the U.S.  All but one of the six mega deals involved both a U.S. acquirer and a U.S. target.

Cross-border A&D deals increased in 2011 and European acquirers played a greater role in the A&D deal market compared to 2010. The pace of market consolidation hastened within Europe and outbound deals also increased.  All of the European outbound deals above the $50 million threshold in 2011 were for North American targets, thus boosting  the number of cross-border deals for U.S. targets.

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