Topic: M&A

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Timely, or too soon? Competition Bureau releases guidance on “failing firm” claims in merger reviews

On April 29, in a rare decision based on the “failing firm” rationale, the Competition Bureau announced it would not challenge the acquisition of Total Metal Recovery (TMR) Inc. by American Iron & Metal Company Inc. (AIM), because TMR would have likely exited the market without the merger.

The Bureau released a detailed position statement on the transaction, which will assist parties seeking to rely on a “failing firm” argument. This will be particularly important in the wake of the COVID-19 economic downturn, as many businesses may face failure and seek to be acquired by a competitor if they cannot … Continue Reading

Canadian Government Announces New Policy Applying “Enhanced Scrutiny” to Certain Foreign Investments During COVID-19

Market Contraction

The financial markets and global economy have experienced a precipitous decline and substantial volatility due to the economic impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This has had a significant and immediate impact on the level of M&A activity, both in Canada and globally, as companies are shelving deals or simply walking away entirely.

In fact, Thomson Reuters, citing data from the financial research firm Refinitiv, recently reported that there was a 57% decline in M&A activity in Q1 2020 as compared to Q1 2019, as Canadian M&A activity dropped to its lowest level since 2015. Globally M&A activity … Continue Reading

Earnouts: Sharing Risk and Reward in Uncertain Times

The turbulent economic environment resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the M&A world in numerous ways. Among them is the increased focus on earnout provisions, both those in place from legacy deals and those being considered for inclusion in an upcoming transaction. This post provides an overview of the earnout mechanism and describes the alternative approaches dealmakers have at their disposal.

The purpose of an earnout is to allocate risk and reward between a purchaser and a seller in respect of the post-closing success of the acquired business. Earnouts are useful as a means of bridging the valuation gap: … Continue Reading

Private Equity Exits During COVID-19: What the 2008 Crisis Can Teach Us

In a previous post, we discussed the impact of COVID-19 on private equity transactions and how companies can prepare for upcoming economic changes. While opportunities for new investment are on the horizon with private equity funds presently flush with cash, movement on existing investments is likely to slow as sellers wait until markets stabilize before divesting their assets. Recent research suggests that funds with vintage years 2012 through 2017 are facing a lower exit pricing environment, which could lead fund managers to increase their holding periods and delay exiting until they can better recover their investments.

A look at … Continue Reading

Looking Beyond COVID-19: How Companies Can Prepare for the Post-Pandemic Economy

As COVID-19 continues to sweep across the world, it is has undoubtedly taken the global financial markets by storm. Despite the unprecedented social and economic disruptions brought by the pandemic, Ernst & Young’s Capital Confidence Barometer Survey (the Survey) of more than 2,900 C-suite executives globally shows that more than half (56%) of them continue to plan major transformation programs. At the same time, as the extent of COVID-19’s impact on the global economy is gradually revealed, in addition to navigating the current downturn, companies are starting to look beyond the crisis and identify ways to better position their … Continue Reading

Competition Bureau Issues Additional Guidance on Competitor Collaboration During COVID-19 Pandemic

Canadian businesses continue to face unprecedented challenges in light of the rapid spread of COVID-19. On March 20, the commissioner of competition provided some guidance for industry on the continuing application of the Competition Act to competitor collaborations, which we summarized in a recent bulletin. In short, the statement indicated that the Competition Bureau’s pre-existing analytical framework would continue to apply: agreements among competitors to fix prices, allocate markets or restrict output would be pursued criminally, but other agreements among competitors on matters outside these three areas would only be prohibited where they resulted, or were likely to result … Continue Reading

Private Equity Funds & Co-Investment: A Symbiotic Relationship

Broadly, a co-investment is an investment in a specific transaction made by limited partners (LPs) of a main private equity (PE) fund alongside, but not through, such main PE fund. This is often accomplished through a separately structured co-investment vehicle which is governed by a separate set of agreements. Co-investments are attractive to PE funds and LPs alike for a multitude of reasons, including as: a means for PE funds to gain access to supplementary capital; an avenue by which PE funds may make larger single investments that are otherwise unavailable or undesirable; and a means for LPs to attain … Continue Reading

2020 merger review thresholds for Competition Act and Investment Canada Act

The threshold for certain pre-closing net benefit reviews under the Investment Canada Act (ICA) and the threshold for a pre-closing merger notification under the Competition Act have now both been released for 2020. The Commissioner of Competition announced on April 1 that the threshold would remain the same as in 2019.

Competition Act

Canada uses a two-part test for determining whether a pre-merger notification is necessary. The two-part test is based on the size of the parties and the size of the transaction. The transaction size component can be adjusted annually for inflation. Under the size of the parties test, … Continue Reading

Evaluating the Legal Risks of Data Assets in M&A

Data is an essential asset for many businesses, and one that is increasingly acquired through M&A transactions. Identifying and assessing the particular legal challenges of data assets is crucial for acquirers to mitigate the risks associated with these assets and unlock their full value. While issues will depend on the particulars of each transaction, the following is a high-level overview of significant considerations.

What rights in the data assets is the acquiring company receiving?

Evaluating a target company’s rights to their data assets is often more complex and uncertain than for more tangible assets. Such rights are often limited by … Continue Reading

M&A Activity: 2020 Outlook

J.P. Morgan’s “2020 Global M&A Outlook” (the Report) reviews what we can expect with regards to M&A activity this year. Some of the key takeaways from the Report include:

  • Anticipated Trends in International M&A: We can expect to see an increase in the global M&A market due to greater geopolitical certainty and financially competitive opportunities in regions such as Japan.
  • The Role of Private Equity Firms in the M&A Market: With record levels of capital to deploy, private equity firms will continue to be active players in the M&A market.
  • Shareholder Activism: Shareholder activists will continue to
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Acqui-hiring: What we know and what we need to know from a Canadian perspective

“Acqui-hire” transactions, which are particularly prevalent in the context of start-up technology-related M&A transactions in the U.S., focus on acquiring a company primarily to obtain its employees and their skills, in addition to other possible assets (see our earlier post on acqui-hires). In these type of transactions, it is thought that the greatest perceived value in the target lies in its employee base or segment(s) thereof. If there is also perceived value in the intellectual property (IP) or other assets of the target company, an acquiror might purchase those assets and possibly license them back. In some cases, … Continue Reading

Examining data analytics in M&A

The M&A world continues to evolve as transactions are becoming more diverse and complex. Timelines are getting shorter and acquirors have less time to assess their targets but more pressure to justify their acquisitions. Acquirors must simplify the process of acquiring a target, while simultaneously improving the accuracy of their predictions about the acquisition’s profitability. Could data analytics be one of the solutions?

More data is being created today than ever before. Generally, there are two kinds of data relevant to M&A transactions. The first is data created by companies spontaneously (e.g. social media chatter, CRM data, user … Continue Reading

How to ensure that emails of former employees do not fall through the cracks when purchasing a business

The importance of email in the workplace presents a variety of legal challenges when purchasing a business. Among those are concerns relating to emails and the email addresses of the seller’s employees who are no longer employed by the purchaser after closing.

First, there are confidentiality concerns in connection with former employees receiving information they should no longer have access to. Second, there are concerns that customers or other relevant individuals may be emailing former employees instead of the current employees of the purchaser. This can result in missed sales opportunities, gaps in customer service and a negative impact on … Continue Reading

Let’s see the money! Debt finance options in M&A

In many cases purchasers in an M&A deal will obtain debt financing to cover a portion of the purchase price. Fortunately, in Canada the options for acquisition financing are plentiful. Common ‘types’ include:

Senior Debt: the Bank Loan

Banks and other senior lenders can design a range of tailored solutions to purchasers’ funding needs. Broadly speaking, these loans can be classified as follows:

  • Fixed Term Loan or Revolver: The fixed term loan is credit for a fixed amount to be funded, and paid back, according to a pre-determined schedule. A revolving loan allows a borrower to drawdown, pay back and
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2019 in Review: eSports edition

The eSports industry experienced monumental growth in 2019 and is well underway to becoming a financially lucrative market.

By the end of last year, eSports had over 433 million global viewers, more than American Football and rugby combined, and is expected to reach over 645 million viewers in 2020. For perspective, the 2019 League of Legends World Championship alone amassed a peak viewership of 3.98 million, far surpassing earlier eSports viewership records.

2019 also marked the year that eSports became a billion dollar industry. In line with its massive following, eSports drew in record revenues last year, experiencing a 26.7% … Continue Reading

NAFTA 2.1: Bringing certainty to an uncertain time

If there is anything that Canadian dealmakers are all too familiar with in 2019, it’s the concept of uncertainty. Raging trade wars, geopolitical tensions, elections, and a forecasted economic downturn are all pervasive in everyday conversation. Despite this, deal flow has remained robust throughout the first three quarters of 2019, as summarized in a recent post. Fortunately, significant uncertainty in relation to trade with the U.S. and Mexico is hopefully coming to an end.

Representatives from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico met last week to sign what some are calling “NAFTA 2.1” but is formally known as the Canada-United … Continue Reading

Dealing with pending or threatened litigation in M&A

A significant consideration when considering an M&A target can be the impact that pending or threatened litigation has on the proposed transaction.

While some organizations may balk at the idea of acquiring a target that is (or is likely to be) the subject of a lawsuit, such companies are often available at significant discounts to purchasers that are able to understand and address the risks.

Each transaction will have its own unique considerations. However, an organization that is contemplating acquiring a target that is the subject of pending or threatened litigation should, among other items, address the following high-level considerations:… Continue Reading

Parties to M&A must be diligent about climate change

Climate change has become a high profile issue that is expected to have significant implications for M&A transactions going forward. As public awareness and scientific understanding of climate change continues to evolve, we are more informed about the climate change-related risks that businesses must grapple with and get ahead of. As a result, businesses need to be especially diligent in their assessment of a range of factors that may be impacted by the changing climate when completing M&A transactions. While the risks that should be considered will, of course, vary between transactions, the following is a list of climate-related factors … Continue Reading

Cybersecurity in M&A Transactions: Friend or Foe?

The heavy reliance on technology in today’s data-driven world means that cybersecurity threats must be taken seriously. More specifically, with respect to M&A transactions, a target’s cybersecurity mechanisms have become an important part of the due diligence consideration. Indeed, it is important to have a firm grasp on the nature and extent of a target’s cybersecurity vulnerabilities, the likelihood of a breach, and the procedure in place to remedy a breach, if necessary. These considerations have the power to significantly alter the value of a transaction, or even derail it entirely.

With the introduction of EU’s General Data Protection RegulationContinue Reading

Canadian M&A Q3 2019 Review: Canadian M&A activity remains strong despite a slight decline in transaction volume

Crosbie & Company’s “Crosbie & Company Canadian Mergers & Acquisitions Report for Q3 2019” (the Report) reviews the minor slowdown in Canadian M&A activity in Q3 2019 following a record-breaking second quarter. While deal activity declined slightly in Q3 (776 announced transactions compared to 886 in Q2), the Canadian M&A market remained robust, posting its eleventh straight quarter (dating back to Q1 2017) with at least 700 transactions.

Highlights of the Report

  • Slight decline in transaction volume: 776 transactions were announced during Q3 2019 compared to 886 in Q2 2019, representing a 12.4% decrease from the previous quarter.
  • Non-mega
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CANADA’S COMPETITION BUREAU IS KEEPING AN EYE ON SMALL M&A DEALS

The Competition Bureau (the “Bureau”) is required to review certain merger transactions that exceed various financial thresholds, based on the size of the business being acquired and the combined size of the buyer, the target business, and their affiliates. The notification thresholds under the Competition Act (the “Act”) are discussed in more detail here. The Bureau reviews transactions that exceed these thresholds (“notifiable transactions”) to assess the potential competitive effects of the deal prior to its completion, and if the Bureau concludes that a transaction is likely to substantially lessen or prevent competition, they may seek a remedy (such … Continue Reading

Emerging Trends in Information Technology (IT) Mergers and Acquisitions

Canada’s burgeoning information technology (IT) sector is a standout in the Canadian mergers and acquisitions landscape. A recent report by Duff & Phelps illustrates that in the first half of 2019, IT was the third most active deal-making sector in Canada with over 104 closed transactions. Against this backdrop, three trends emerge:

  • ‘Buying into’ privacy or cybersecurity risk. Buyers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of conducting rigorous due diligence on a target company’s privacy and cybersecurity systems and practices. Marriott’s data breach in 2018, where about 383 million guest records globally were exposed to cybercriminals, highlights this.
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Ethical consumerism: a new driver of M&A in the beauty and clothing industries

In a previous post, we discussed the rise of M&A activity in the meat and dairy sector as consumer tastes change and concern for the environment becomes more widespread.

Industry experts believe that this trend, namely of ethical brands driving M&A, is much broader than the food and beverage space. Beauty, clothing and apparel and other consumer brands focusing on natural and sustainable products are also driving M&A activity. As the 2019 year end rapidly approaches, a reflection on some of these larger trends may shed some light on what may come in 2020.

Beauty and cosmetics

  • The research
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(Un)masking value: how the data masking market can impact M&A activity

Recent rumblings about the “data masking” market have put this concept on the radar of many, which warrants a closer look at the relevant trends and the potential of data masking. The information age has made cybersecurity a necessity and the increase of data breaches and malware attacks have led to calls for greater data protection.

What is data masking?

Perhaps surprisingly, the purpose of data masking is more than just obfuscating original data in order to protect it. An additional layer is the process of creating a structurally similar, yet inauthentic version, of an organization’s data that can be … Continue Reading

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