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IMAP & Capstone Partners Release The 2023-2024 Trends in Global M&A Research Report

Middle-Market M&A Outperforms Broader Market Despite Global Deal Flow Decline

IMAP, a leading global investment banking advisory partnership, in conjunction with its US partner, Capstone Partners, a leading middle-market investment banking firm, today released its annual Trends in Global M&A Survey Report, with insights from M&A advisors across the world.  

This report combines Capstone's in-depth investment banking knowledge with proprietary data obtained from a survey of 100 participating IMAP M&A advisors across 65 countries. Conducted between September 26, 2023, and October 24, 2023, the survey captures sentiment at a pivotal moment in global middle-market M&A, providing insight into M&A market activity throughout 2023 and forecasts for deal making conditions in 2024.

Key Findings:

  • Despite a decline in overall M&A volume, middle-market deal activity continued to outperform the broader market in 2023, as identified by 57% of total investment bankers surveyed
  • As M&A activity likely neared or reached its trough in 2023, the majority (51%) of total advisors surveyed anticipate 2024 deal flow to increase. However, the lion’s share (47%) of those respondents expect a moderate increase in 2024, indicating that a full M&A volume rebound may not materialize over the next 12 months
  • Financial criteria comprised the top three most important M&A target characteristics for acquirers in 2023, as noted by total advisers surveyed. This includes strong margin profiles (71% of advisors), recurring revenue (63%), and defensible cashflow (47%)
  • More than 90% of advisors in each industry forecasted an increase or consistent amount of private equity activity in their respective industries, illustrating the strength of the sponsor community across a variety of markets
  • M&A purchase multiples are expected to remain compressed in 2024, with 67% of advisors surveyed anticipating little to no change in valuations compared to 2023, likely driven by market/economic uncertainty and a lack of motivated acquirers
  • Half of advisors projected businesses owner retirement to continue to be the driving force behind sell-side mandates in 2024, followed by an owner seeking liquidity
  • To achieve a successful M&A deal for a seller, nearly all (95%) advisors pointed to setting a realistic deal valuation as very or somewhat important. This aligns with the primary deal closing hinderance advisors faced throughout 2023, as 58% experienced excessive valuation expectations from sellers

Through this research, IMAP and Capstone Partners have tracked notable impacts on the global M&A market, current economic environment, as well as M&A advisors’ expectations on pricing trends and regional risks and opportunities moving forward into 2024. The report also provides an analysis of sell-side M&A considerations for middle-market business owners looking to pursue a liquidity event.

Download the full report including a breakout of the results by industry and region below.

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