Across The Pond: European Targets Still Attracting US Corporations

The CEO of Pittsburgh’s PPG Industries, Michael McGarry, landed in Amsterdam on Thursday only to find AkzoNobel’s doors closed to him. McGarry has an uphill climb ahead of him after AkzoNobel recently rejected PPG’s second bid this month, an increased offer of €24.5 billion for its Dutch rival in paints, coatings and chemicals.

Cross-border M&A has never been easy, but increasing protectionism among developed nations and massive unsolicited bids like Kraft Heinz’s $143 billion offer to acquire Unilever last month isn’t making it any easier. The challenge is growing altogether more pressing as a strong US dollar relative to the British pound and the euro has made some European targets even more appealing of late.

But not all American companies are having such a tough time courting European targets.

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Last quarter, corporate investors in the US announced agreements with or placed bids on 25 European companies, according to data from the PitchBook Platform. This quarter has not disappointed either, with 26 deals announced or in bidding, and the activity is distributed across very different sectors.

European M&A by US investors (announced or in bidding)

US Corporations

The biggest such deal from last year is Praxair’s attempt to acquire fellow industrial gas company Linde in all-stock transaction valued at more than $65 billion. That deal was announced in late December. The biggest in 2017 thus far is Johnson & Johnson’s $30 billion play for Actelion, which ended months of speculation over the deal in January.

The latest deal between a US investor and a European target? Superior Industries, a manufacturer of aluminum wheels for light vehicles in North America, offered Thursday to acquire Warsaw-listed Uniwheels for approximately $715 million. The bid comes with support from the owner of a 61% stake that has irrevocably agreed to tender its shares. And despite overlaps in the businesses, the offer is not conditioned on receiving any antitrust approvals. Superior Industries added 2% on the news, with Uniwheels dropping a whopping 5% Thursday.

PitchBook Platform users can access the full data on investment activity among US-based corporations and European HQ’d companies.

Article by Adam Putz, PitchBook