February 17, 2020

Cayman leads offshore region in deal value and volume for 2018


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The recorded 31% of all offshore M&A transactions and 26% of total deal value in 2018, maintaining its spot as the top jurisdiction for offshore deal making last year, according to a report released today by offshore law firm Appleby. The latest edition of Offshore-i, an Appleby report that provides data and insight on merger and acquisition activity in the major offshore financial centres, focuses on transactions announced over the course of 2018. While the total number of deals dipped when compared to 2017, value was up significantly. 

“Cayman continued to lead the way in overall M&A activity in 2018, driven in part by a particularly active technology sector,” said Simon Raftopoulos, Partner and Group Head of Appleby’s practice in the Cayman Islands. “Despite a slight dip in the total number of deals, Cayman saw a rise in both overall deal value and average deal size.” The Cayman Islands recorded a cumulative deal value of 89.7 billion last year and was home to three of the offshore region’s 10 biggest transactions. With 867 deals, Cayman was the busiest jurisdiction for deal making, followed by (709 deals), the British Virgin Islands (504 deals) and Bermuda (307 deals). 

The M&A Environment Across Jurisdictions 

Across all offshore jurisdictions, there were 2,781 deals targeting offshore companies in 2018, representing a total value of USD 344 billion, over USD 100 billion more than 2017 and the second-highest annual figure on record. Acquisitions have become increasingly popular over the last two years, compared to taking a minority stake in a company or releasing more shares to investors, and now make up nearly half of all offshore M&A activity. 

“Investing companies are no longer content to just take a seat on the board, but want full control of an asset in order to gain a competitive advantage over rivals,” said Cameron Adderley, Partner and Global Head of Corporate at Appleby. “This drive to do strategic deals is likely to continue, providing finance remains readily available, interest rate rises predictable and markets stable. Gaining access to transformational technologies also remains a big incentive across almost every sector.” 

Record IPO Market Continues into 2018 

In total, 349 offshore companies spread over 60 different industries announced their intention to go to market. Despite stock market volatility that can sometimes lead to IPOs being cancelled, a record 196 offshore companies completed their listing in 2018, raising almost USD 33 billion. Cayman-incorporated companies were responsible for 174 of those completed IPOs. 

“Investor confidence, large pools of liquidity, strong valuations and low interest rates have offset recent stock market turbulence, creating a very strong year for IPOs in the offshore region,” Adderley said. “We have seen a lot of activity from wholesale traders looking to raise extra working capital and construction companies, launching IPOs in order to invest in ongoing projects.” Offshore IPOs typically occur on exchanges in the U.S., London or Hong Kong, with Hong Kong an especially popular choice among Cayman companies. Top sectors for announced offshore IPOs were information service activities and publishing activities. 

Outbound Deal Volume Outpaces Inbound Activity 

While the primary focus of Offshore-i is on transactions in which offshore targets are purchased by investors, the report also examines deals in which the acquirer is based offshore. There were 3,532 outbound deals announced over 2018 with a total value of USD 340 billion, which includes 66 deals worth more than USD 1 billion each. The targets of these outbound deals were spread across the globe, with China, the U.S. and the U.K. being popular targets. 

Much of Western Europe is strongly represented, with a high concentration of USD billion-dollar deals, as well as several large individual deals targeting the Indian subcontinent. The 10 largest outbound deals were each worth over USD 4 billion. 

Key Findings of 2018:

  • The total value of all offshore deals in 2018 was USD 344 billion, over USD 100 billion more than 2017.
  • There were 57 deals worth at least USD 1 billion, including a record nine megadeals worth over USD 5 billion each.
  • There were 196 completed IPOs, the offshore region’s highest-ever annual total, raising USD 33 billion.
  • A total of 2,781 offshore deals were announced, more than South America and Africa combined.
  • Investors from nearly 60 countries across the world targeted offshore companies.
  • The manufacturing sector saw a 135% increase in M&A value, while the construction sector accounted for 273 deals in 2018, the highest number it has seen in a decade.
  • Cayman was home to the largest number of deals and total deal value, while Jersey experienced a 297% increase in deal value fuelled by a USD 58.5 billion acquisition of Jersey-incorporated Shire PLC by Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical.
  • 161 Offshore-incorporated companies were targeted by investments financed via Private Equity and Venture Capital, the highest volume seen over the last five years.

There were 3,532 outbound deals coming out from the offshore region, worth a combined USD 340 billion. The top 10 outbound deals were each worth over USD 4 billion.

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