Expert Spotlight: What’s Shaping Nordics M&A in 2024?

June 26, 2024 | Blog

Expert Spotlight: What’s Shaping Nordics M&A in 2024?

The M&A landscape in Denmark is poised for an intriguing year ahead, with a confluence of economic, geopolitical, and technological factors shaping the market. At our recent Dealmakers Dialogues discussion, M&A professionals in Copenhagen highlighted key trends and opportunities that are expected to drive deal activity in Denmark and across the Nordics in 2024.

Economic and Financial Headwinds

The Nordic economies have faced a tough few years, marked by economic downturns, increasing scrutiny from regulatory bodies like the Nordic Securities Association (NSA), and rising interest rates. These challenges have made banks more reluctant to lend, complicating financing for M&A deals. Additionally, company valuations have generally declined compared to three years ago, leading to a more cautious approach to book gains.

Despite these headwinds, the overall economic environment is improving. Household savings are at an all-time high, providing a buffer that could stimulate economic growth as consumer spending potentially rises. However, the difficulty in securing financing remains a significant barrier, underscoring the need for innovative funding solutions and increased cash reserves on the investment side.

Sector-Specific Dynamics

One of the bright spots for dealmaking appears to be the energy and infrastructure sector. Driven by the urgent need to address climate change, there is robust activity in this area. Large-scale projects are underway, necessitating substantial funding and innovative financial structures. Additionally, geopolitical tensions, particularly Russia's invasion of Ukraine, have heightened activity in the defense sector, further boosting M&A prospects in related industries.

Pharma, medical, and biotech (PMB) is another promising sector, and has had a particularly good year: Denmark’s Novo Nordisk €10.2bn acquisition claimed the top spot for all M&A deals in EMEA in Q1 and the sector is a prime contender for more activity this year (see Deal Drivers: EMEA Q1 2024). With an aging population and ongoing advancements in medical technology, there is a substantial demand for innovation and investment. The private equity sector, in particular, is highly active, seeking opportunities to develop and scale healthcare companies.

Opportunities Amid Fluctuating Valuations

One of the most significant opportunities in the current market is the fluctuation in company valuations. While this volatility presents risks, it also offers substantial acquisition opportunities for investors willing to navigate the uncertainty. Some companies, now at lower valuations, are attractive targets for acquisition, setting the stage for potentially lucrative deals.

The Nordic economies are also expected to regain growth as inflation declines and consumer spending power increases. This anticipated economic rebound, combined with high household savings, creates a fertile ground for M&A activity, especially in sectors like industrial products, engineering services, and energy transition.

Technology and Human Judgment

Technology, particularly AI, is playing an increasingly vital role in improving deal outcomes. AI tools can enhance efficiency, reduce risks, and expedite deal completion through functions like automated Q&A and predictive analytics. Many firms are investing in AI to modernize their processes and deliver better client outcomes.

However, technology cannot replace the nuanced understanding and intuition that human judgment provides. Personal judgment and gut feelings remain irreplaceable, especially in situations requiring a deep, contextual understanding of the market and potential deals.

Personal interactions, networking, and the ability to make nuanced decisions based on experience and intuition are crucial elements that technology cannot replicate. Encouraging a balanced approach that leverages both technological advancements and human insight is key to successful M&A activities.