Topic: M&A

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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

A no-shop provision can be a buyer’s best friend, while exceptions may be the target’s best friend

Deal protections are an important aspect of M&A transactions. Buyers will typically negotiate with the target of the transaction to include all kinds of deal protections mechanisms, including no-shop provisions, matching rights, and break fees payable to the buyer. No-shop provisions in particular restrict the ability of the target board to solicit alternative proposals (including negotiations with third parties) and recommend alternative transactions to shareholders. Receipt of an unsolicited proposal may trigger a notice requirement. However, no-shop provisions can be limited in scope. Three common and interrelated “exceptions” to no-shop provisions are fiduciary out, go-shop, and window-shop provisions. While the … Continue Reading

Both sides of the same coin? Examining the rise of sponsor-to-sponsor deals

As competition and asset multiples increase, private equity (“PE”) firms must find new ways to put their money to work. One way to create new value is through a sponsor-to-sponsor deal.

Sponsor-to-sponsor deals involve PE firms on both sides of a transaction – buy side and sell side. Due to their high cost and complexity, there is a general view that sponsor-to-sponsor deals tend to be inefficient. However, a recent report by Bain & Company’s Annual Global Private Equity Report 2019 (Report) found that sponsor-to-sponsor deals are on the rise, which implicitly suggests that these deals may not … Continue Reading

“Weeding out the competition” – an update on M&A activity in the cannabis sector

As discussed in previously, the legalization of cannabis in October 2018 sparked a flurry of activity in the Canadian market, as both foreign and domestic investors were eager to enter the space. Notably, in 2018, M&A transactions peaked with over 700 deals completed in the cannabis sector, the total value of which exceeded US$12 billion.

While high entry costs and capital expenditures may continue to be drivers of consolidation in the cannabis sector, there are other emerging factors that may significantly impact the trajectory of M&A activity. With the 2019 year-end rapidly approaching, a reflection on some of these … Continue Reading

The growth and expansion of streaming services

The source of our television services is significantly changing from traditional cable and television services to online providers. The actively changing television service landscape is because of the growth of over-the-top (“OTT”) media services.

Growing Popularity

According to a report by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission, OTT services are television services that are provided through the internet. The CRTC Report identifies most of these OTT services as subscription-based-video-on-demand services, such as Netflix and Crave. The CRTC attributes SVOD services as generating the bulk of OTT revenue, surpassing traditional broadcasting revenue by almost a billion dollars.

Streaming Wars

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5G technology driving M&A activity in the telecommunications sector

The much anticipated rollout of fifth-generation wireless (“5G”) technology and changing consumer habits are expected to drive M&A transactions in the telecommunications sector over the next year. According to EY’s May 2019 Global Capital Confidence Barometer (the “EY Report”) 55% of telecommunications executives expect to actively pursue acquisitions in the next year, a significant increase from the long-term average of 45% for the telecommunications sector.

As consumption patterns for video and gaming continue to change telecommunications executives are anticipating the impact that future 5G speeds and capacity will have on adjacent industries like mobile streaming services … Continue Reading

Investor uncertainty will continue to impact Canadian M&A momentum

Deal count reached a seven-year high in Canada last year, but there has been a loss of momentum in the first half of 2019. On-going trade conflicts and concern over a possible market correction have generated greater economic uncertainty, and the investment outlook for the second half of the year continues to be clouded by these factors.

Rising valuations have been partly attributed to favourable debt conditions. With stimulus measures like the central bank holding interest rates low, the financial environment has been conducive to growth in Canada – so why are some investors dubious? For one, the … Continue Reading

“DARQ” technology and disruptive M&A: gearing up for the “post-digital era”

As technology has become embedded into most parts of our lives, the majority of companies have completed a digitization process. Maintaining a digital platform has become the new norm, and increasingly sophisticated technologies continue to be developed. Accenture’s Technology Vision 2019 (Vision Report), describes this as the transition to the “post-digital era,” where “digital” is a new normal and is no longer a sign, on its own, of innovation. The Vision Report highlights main technology trends that companies will need to get ahead of in order to become leaders.

The main questions related to this “post-digital shift” are; … Continue Reading

Avoiding independent contractor liability in M&A

The distinction between employees and independent contractors is significant as it pertains to workers’ legal entitlements. Employees have an exclusive working relationship with an employer, which engages rights and obligations under applicable employment legislation and the common law. By contrast, independent contractor agreements are entered into by legal and contractual equals. As a result, independent contractors are not afforded employment law protections.

The misclassification of employees as independent contractors continues to attract considerable legal action and media attention. Recently, Ontario has seen a rise in class action lawsuits involving claimants alleging to have been misclassified by their purported employers. … Continue Reading

AI as a solution for cybersecurity problems in M&A deals

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has immense potential as a solution for cybersecurity vulnerabilities in M&A deals. Generally, M&A deals generate value and as such, understanding vulnerabilities on the acquirer and target sides is important for completion of the transaction. With the common usage of networks and servers to store high volumes of data by corporations, vetting for cybersecurity attacks has become a priority in the M&A due diligence process. In a recent study, IBM reported that the global average cost of a data breach has risen 6.4 percent over a 12 month period to $3.86 million. The average … Continue Reading

Good eats: rising interest in dairy & meat alternatives driving M&A activity

As consumer demand for dairy and meat alternatives increases, established food manufacturers are looking to supplement their offerings by entering into M&A transactions with emerging meat and dairy alternative manufacturers. According to a recent report by the Good Food Institute (GFI), there have been 46 completed investments and acquisitions of vegan food manufacturers in 2018 alone, with the largest acquisition having a value of $12.5 billion. Many leaders in the meat industry are starting to acquire and invest in the dairy and meat alternatives market to tap into consumer demand. Investing in vegan alternatives is essential for food manufacturers to … Continue Reading

2019 M&A activity off to a strong start in financial services

M&A activity in the financial services sector has opened with a solid start. According to a KPMG quarterly update, the Q1 2019 report is the second highest than any other quarter since 2016 by deal volume. This positive start to the year suggests that the 11 percent increase in transaction volume last year may continue to surge. For both domestic and foreign buyers, the Canadian financial services sector continues to be an attractive investment. A robust Canadian M&A market is expected for the remainder of 2019 due to low-cost debt financing and supportive debt markets. KPMG has identified these … Continue Reading

Spreading like weeds: alternative cannabis products are on the way!

As we have previously discussed, Canada has positioned itself as a global leader in the cannabis space. That trend is set to continue on October 17, 2019, when it is expected that alternative cannabis products, which include edibles, infused beverages and topicals containing cannabis and cannabis concentrates will be legalized in Canada. The sale of a new and wider range of products will create valuable opportunities to tap into a growing market of consumers – particularly, those less comfortable with traditional cannabis consumption methods. According to a recent report published by Deloitte, it estimated that the Canadian market for … Continue Reading

Global payments industry: frantic M&A activity not slowing down

A payments industry that was stagnant and stale for decades has recently entered a transformational and disruptive period of innovation, with seemingly boundless growth ahead.

Payments players have engaged in record-setting levels of global mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity over the course of the past few years, but 2019 is poised to be yet another banner year for deal-making in the payments space. Rather than showing signs of plateau, this crescendo is set to continue beyond the immediate future.

The frenetic pace of M&A activity in the payments space recently has grown out of a confluence of factors. Private equity … Continue Reading

Ready to rock! 2019 may see increased M&A activity among Canadian mining companies

2018 was a difficult year for Canadian mining companies. The aggregate valuation of TSX-listed miners declined by 12.7%, while equity capital raised by these companies declined by 36% from the previous year’s total. In this environment, new financings and deals have been scarce, but there is reason to believe that this trend might change in 2019, according to a recent publication by PwC.

A number of factors support the general prediction of increased M&A activity among TSX-listed mining companies. These factors include:

  • Increasing commodities prices. Spot prices for based and precious metals decreased across the board in 2018. However,
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Understanding landlord consents in share and asset purchase transactions

Transactions, whether share or asset purchase, may involve the transfer of real property interests. Some important considerations when drafting agreements for these transactions are:

  • Are there any leases that are a part of the transferred assets?
  • If so, is landlord consent required for assignment or change of control under these leases?
  • Are the leases material, such that failure to maintain or transfer the lease on closing will materially adversely impact the deal?

Landlord consents are a crucial aspect of such deals and proper drafting of the agreement and interpretation of landlord consent provisions in leases can save time and undue … Continue Reading

Health Canada changes cannabis licensing process

On May 8, 2019, Health Canada announced that it is introducing changes to its cannabis licensing process, effective immediately. Before the change, an applicant can apply for a cannabis license by submitting paper application to Health Canada without having to build a facility first. Now, a new applicant for licence to cultivate, process or sell cannabis for medical purposes must have fully built a cannabis facility that meets all the regulatory requirements under the Cannabis Regulations at the time of submitting an application.

This change came about after Health Canada reviewed its existing licensing regime, which revealed that a major … Continue Reading

A-I Captain! Know the legal risks of buying an AI company… or go down with the ship

On February 21, 2019, Blackberry completed its acquisition of Cylance, a privately-held artificial intelligence (AI) and cybersecurity company. Acquisitions of AI companies like Cylance are becoming increasingly common as businesses seek to realize the opportunities in offering much-improved products or services to their customers. Canada, in particular, has become a hotspot for activity in the AI industry.

Acquiring an AI company is not always smooth sailing. There are common risks that buyers must be aware of prior to embarking on an acquisition.

Know where the data comes from

An AI derives its value from data sets used … Continue Reading

Electronic documents and signatures: a legal overview

In our increasingly digitized world, it is important to know the rules regarding electronic documents and signatures. Each Canadian province and territory has adopted its own electronic commerce legislation, which are very similar to one another and largely permissive in regards to the use of electronic documents and signatures. Alberta’s e-commerce legislation is called the Electronic Transactions Act (the ETA). Section 10 states that information or a record to which the ETA applies must not be denied legal effect or enforceability solely by reason that it is in electronic form.

The “functional equivalency rules” of the ETA provide the … Continue Reading

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