Back to reality: Italian M&A and PE activity in 2021–H1 2022

ReportData Insight 6 July

Back to reality: Italian M&A and PE activity in 2021–H1 2022

Volume of Italian transactions slides in first half of 2022, but value stays strong thanks to Atlantia deal

Italian M&A value defied expectations in the first half of 2022, rising to a total of €71bn (a 42% gain on H1 2021), according to an exclusive new report from Italian law firm Gatti Pavesi Bianchi Ludovici (GPBL).

The volume of deals in the year to date fell to 304 transactions (16% lower than H1 2021), mirroring a 35% decrease in volume for the EU region plus the UK during the same period.

The rise in deal value was largely the function of the gargantuan take-private of Atlantia by Blackstone Group for €42.7bn alongside existing shareholder Edizione, the investment group controlled by the Benetton family.

Private equity (PE) in Italy has had a banner year so far. Year to date, there has been €57.2bn in deal activity, already up 23% compared to all of 2021 (€46.6bn). In terms of volume, there have been 71 PE deals in the country compared to 100 in H1 2021.

While the Atlantia deal has had a huge impact on the value figures, it is notable that PE has been playing an outsized role across the board. Of the top ten largest M&As in Italy to date, eight were claimed by financial sponsors as acquirers and no fewer than four of the top five were PE buyouts.

In terms of sector activity, transportation leapt to the top of the value charts, largely thanks to the Atlantia deal, with 28% of aggregate deal value in 2021-2022 compared to just 3% in 2019-2020.  TMT took a 16% share of total deal value in 2021-2022, a massive step down from the 28% recorded in 2019-2020.

Turning to deal volume, industrials and chemicals (I&C) was the most dominant sector in Italian M&A in 2021–2022 by volume, representing a 26% proportion of all deals. Year to date, meanwhile, there have been 77 deals in 2022, down 14% from 90 over H1 2021. This is a smaller drop than in Europe, which is down 43%.

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