Alston & Bird’s third annual study of M&A activity between the Nordic countries and the United States shows a significant increase in both deal numbers and deal value over the previous year.
The 2019 Nordic–U.S. M&A Study – which tracks both inbound and outbound M&A activity between Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden and the United States during 2015–2019 – puts the number of reported deals for 2019 at 140 versus 2018’s deal count of 105, a jump of more 33 percent.
The value of those deals also rose considerably – from $12.1 billion in 2018 to $15.1 billion in 2019, an increase of 25 percent.
A breakdown of the study’s findings shows a rise of 20 percent in the number of acquisitions of U.S. targets by Nordic buyers last year – 66 transactions versus 55 in 2018 – and a 14 percent in deal value, from $5.1 billion in 2018 to $5.8 billion in 2019.
Acquisitions of Nordic targets by U.S. buyers rose even further, from 50 reported transactions in 2018 to 74 in 2019, an increase of 48 percent. Deal value also climbed sharply, from $7 billion in 2018 to $9.3 billion in 2019, a 33 percent increase.
“2019 was a banner year for M&A activity between the U.S. and the Nordic countries,” said Soren Lindstrom, Alston & Bird partner in the firm’s Corporate Transactions & Securities Group and a Denmark native who advises Nordic and other European companies in U.S. legal matters, including M&A transactions. “Underscoring a trend that we have seen over the survey’s five-year period, U.S. buyers continue to dominate the deal-making, investing approximately 60 percent more in the Nordic region than Nordic buyers in the U.S. during that time.”
As the study shows, from 2015-2019, U.S. buyers acquired a total of 321 Nordic targets for a total of $46.6 billion. Conversely, Nordic buyers acquired a total of 240 U.S. targets for a total of $29.1 billion.
Among the report’s other findings:
- From 2015–2019, Swedish companies were by far the most acquisitive in the U.S. Of the total 240 reported acquisitions of U.S. targets by Nordic buyers during the period, 143 – or 60 percent – were by Swedish buyers for a total of $19.5 billion. Swedish companies were also the most attractive targets for U.S. buyers. Of the total 321 reported acquisitions of Nordic targets by U.S. buyers, 128 – or 40 percent – were Swedish targets for a total purchase price of $19.2 billion.
- Denmark was the second-most active country in acquiring U.S. companies. From 2015–2019, Danish companies acquired 52 U.S. targets. Danish companies were also the second-most active targets of U.S. buyers, representing 89 transactions.
- Norway and Finland continue to lag significantly behind Sweden and Denmark in the number of M&A transactions and deal value overall during the survey’s five-year period.
- From 2015–2019, private equity-backed transactions increased significantly between the U.S. and Nordic countries. Except for one acquisition by a Danish PE firm in 2017, all the 24 reported PE-backed acquisitions of U.S. targets were by Swedish PE firms. U.S. PE firms account for the two largest M&A transactions reported ($5.9 billion in 2016 for a Swedish target and $4.1 billion in 2017 for a Finnish target).
- Targets in the information technology and industrial products and services industries were, by far, the most common during the period for both the U.S. and Nordic countries.