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2014 will see M&A comeback

M&A is coming off the back of a shaky 2013 but Karen Evans-Cullen of Clayton Utz believes the conditions are perfect for a much brighter 2014.

Video transcript below:

Karen Evans-Cullen, Partner, Clayton Utz
Karen Evans-Cullen:
 Yes, it was a tough year in M&A across the market and I am certainly us and our competitors probably found it challenging, but I think you know we are in cyclical practice area and we are used to riding through those cycles.

Reporter:  Mergers and Acquisitions are coming off the back of a tough 2013.  With activity levels down 50% on 2012, they are lowest since 2002.  However Karen Evans-Cullen, Partner at Clayton Utz isn’t fazed and sees a bright 2014 ahead for M&A.

Karen Evans-Cullen:  I think we are more positive about where M&A will take us this year.  The market fundamentals for M&A are right at the moment, there is a good availability of debt, it’s cheap, there is confidence returning to the Boardrooms and to you know, consumers in general and that sort of filters through to the businesses and also we are seeing pretty strong equity market conditions, which always is a positive for M&A.

Reporter:  For Evans-Cullen the opportunities for M&A in 2014 will be in areas undergoing regulatory reform.  

Karen Evans-Cullen:  We think really the opportunities for M&A this year are in a couple of different industry sectors.  Obviously with the infrastructure there is a whole sleight of government privatisations on the cards and so there will be a lot of activity in that space.  In the other areas where we think there will be activities, areas that are really undergoing regulatory reform, so areas like financial services with the Financial Services enquiry, you know you think there will be consolidation at the smaller end of the market there as they try and grapple with the new regulation and the niche for the market.  Also areas that are subject to other regulatory changes like media, so if the government comes forward with some proposed media ownership changes, then we think there will be a lot of activity in that space and then finally other areas that are very subject to structural change like digital disruption, so areas like retail and telecommunications and technology, areas that we think will really look for opportunities to grow by M&A.

Reporter:  Evans-Cullen adds that lawyers can help boost competitive tension in the market by helping their clients negotiate regulatory pathways to enable a level playing field.

Karen Evans-Cullen:  One of the major impediments to maximising tension and to having a level playing field amongst bidders is the regulatory [privileges] that the bidders need and if you’ve got one bidder, who has got significant regulatory road blocks in the way, then it’s going to be very difficult to create real competitive tension with other bidders who don’t have those road blocks.  So what the lawyers can do is actually help their clients through those regulatory paths and actually try and get to a point where all of the bids can compete on an equal footing at the one time.
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