By Suzy Bibko, EMEA Content Marketing Manager, Merrill Corporation
We recently had the chance to catch up with M&A practitioners in the Middle East at our M&A Innovation Breakfast in Dubai in January 2020, to learn their thoughts about how technology and innovation can help them accelerate deals in the region. And what did they have to say? Bring it on!
A Positive Outlook
Whether this was because the majority believed that the outlook for M&A in the region in 2020 and beyond was positive, or that they’re aware of all the ways technology can help them, or a combination of factors, they appear ready and willing to embrace technology and innovation for M&A success.
M&A Digital Maturity in its Infancy
At the event, we asked our audience about how they used technology, for what purpose, and at what level. While they overwhelmingly acknowledged that they were not very digitally mature or technologically sophisticated, they seemed keenly aware of where it could benefit them the most and through what means.
Due Diligence and Deal Prep as Drivers
While digitally maturity is still in its infancy, the M&A practitioners seemed keenly aware of where it could benefit them the most and through what means: namely, deal prep and due diligence, with better data analytics, especially as due diligence is seen as the most important success factor for M&A in the region.
Analytics Add Value
Interestingly, when we surveyed M&A practitioners in the Middle East back in 2018 for our Due Diligence 2022 report about their thoughts regarding the technologies could most help them in the due diligence process, AI and machine learning were the frontrunners. So, things have somewhat changed. The question is why?
Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that while AI has been talked about for years, not many software providers have lived up to their promises – DatasiteOne DIligence is one of the first to pioneer AI technology in M&A redaction. On the other hand, sophisticated data analytics software is available and provides the tools to help get deals done better and faster, and with more insight.
For instance, Datasite Diligence provides dealmaker with valuable data analytics tools: quick access to deal KPIs through visual dashboards regarding documents, users and buyers enables practitioners to stay ahead of the deal; filters allow drill downs into documents, user and role; exporting data and visuals into PDF, Excel and email makes deal reporting fast and easy; and custom dashboards enable unique deal analysis.
Technology Enhances the Process
It is refreshing that practitioners in the Middle East see a need for technology that can help them, and that they are ready to embrace it – especially as the region can be difficult to gauge. “I was pleasantly surprised how much interest there was on the topic of innovation and the use of technology to improve the M&A process,” says Melissa Forbes-Miranda, Counsel at Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla and panellist at our event.
“It can cut a lot of the process-driven work, which ultimately has a positive impact on transaction costs," she says. "I am excited to see how the legal technology will evolve in the next few years to improve the efficiency of the due diligence process, the documentation and negotiation process, project management, and exchange and completion mechanics.”
“Tools like DatasiteOne Diligence can significantly enhance the M&A due diligence process,” explains Merlin Piscitelli, CRO EMEA at Merrill DatasiteOne. “It was great to hear first-hand in Dubai that practitioners recognize the value of tools like ours and want to use them to better secure deal success. Our analytics tools are particularly valuable to practitioners there, as getting clear visibility on all aspects of the deal, in a timely manner, to all relevant players, can be one of the more frustrating parts of doing deals in this region. We’re thrilled that DatasiteOne Diligence can solve these challenges for them.”
"I was especially encouraged by the level of sohpistication within the Middle East dealmaking community," continues Piscitelli. "The desire for technology to improve the M&A lifecyle was readily apparent. When people saw the tools available, like integrated redaction, customized analytics, bulk editing and advanced search capailities, they really saw a path that allows them to focus on value-added tasks and not be impeded by those that hamper and slow down the process. Furthermore, the engagement of the practioners and the marketplace gives us the fuel to continue to innovate and provide the technologies they need and want."