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Emerging markets will drive M&A this year, bankers in Davos say

Companies based in emerging markets will probably drive global mergers and acquisitions, as countries such as Brazil, India and China fuel economic growth, said bankers meeting this week in Davos, Switzerland.

“There will be a lot of corporate finance and M&A coming out of emerging markets,” said Sadeq Sayeed, Nomura Holdings Inc.’s European chief, at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. “Capital and savings ratios in Asia are so great, and to grow, there is a need for countries like India to have Western-style governance and accountancy, and that means there will be more acquisitions.”

While takeovers in regions including Asia, eastern Europe and South America have declined by 17 per cent to $743bn over the past 12 months, the drop wasn’t nearly as steep as in Europe and North America, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Those regions had a combined decline of 34 per cent.

“Near-term secular growth doesn’t exist in the developed economies, so more of the activity, both target and acquirer, will likely occur in Brazil, Russia, India and China, said Peter Weinberg”, a founding partner of New York-based investment bank Perella Weinberg Partners LP.

London-based BP Plc is interested in acquiring assets in Brazil and is working with China Petrochemical Corp. to expand in Asia, Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward said in Davos. Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein said emerging markets are the best place to invest as their economies grow faster than the developed world.

Attractive Places
“Emerging markets are the most attractive places to invest and are rebounding more rapidly,” Rubenstein said, referring to China, India and Brazil, South Korea and Turkey. “We’ll see lots of capital going into these countries.”

The International Monetary Fund, last week, said the global economy this year will be stronger than it previously forecast, driven by emerging markets.

Emerging and developing economies will grow 6 per cent this year, almost triple the 2.1 per cent pace forecast for advanced economies, the IMF recently predicted.

Companies have disclosed an increase in transactions of about 22 per cent over the past two months as firms revive deals that were shelved or postponed during the credit crunch.

“People found in the go-go years they were able to run debt-equity ratios that were higher and those gave rise to the ability to buy things and run conglomerates,” said Sayeed. “That may not make sense anymore and conglomerates may break down.”

Weinberg said a “reasonable” number of large, conservatively capitalized companies are eyeing both domestic and cross-border opportunities.

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