Mergermarket Private Equity and M&A Forum Europe

Unlock your M&A potential at our premier European forum!

The Langham, London


08.30 - 09.00

Registration and Breakfast

09.00 - 09.10

Chairperson’s welcome address and Mergermarket’s M&A & Private Equity Analysis

09.10 - 09.35

Keynote speaker: Navigating market uncertainty - 2024 global M&A roadmap

  • Market commentary
    • Q4 momentum carrying over to 2024
    • One of the larger pipelines she has seen
    • Region differences
    • Changes in sector volume and trends
  • Pent-up demand for deals / Drivers of activity
    • Strategic need / corporate clarity / investors rewarding focus
    • Activism, role it plays
  • Market inhibitors 
    • Macro concerns – Interest rates, slower growth, volatile inflation
    • Geopolitcal & Regulatory Risk
  • Valuation mismatch 
    • JPM solutions – earn-outs, contingent payments, etc.
  • Sponsors need for exits
    • Record dry powder, pressure to return DPI
  • Financing environment – January saw record debt issuance, what sectors do we see it and how they will deploy capital
09.35 - 10.20

Panel: M&A Deal leaders 2024 - The year M&A will rise up again?

The combination of high interest and inflation saw M&A sink to the lowest level in ten years in 2023 to USD 2.9trn according to Mergermarket data. The M&A market is anticipated to ascend in 2024 and our panel of experts as will discuss the current deal environment, the themes driving M&A activity in 2024 so far, such as protectionism and supply chain challenges and how to successfully navigate a deal process in the current environment. Speakers will share their key successes in the process, structure, communication, governance, and overall strategic planning and execution stages. 

  • What do they expect of the M&A market in 2024 and has there been a shift in opportunities with types of deals they have been working on and the number of deals? 
  • Insights - which regions and sectors are encouraging for growth in the next six months?
  • What will the next six months hold for regional M&A, and is a recession/correction expected in the year ahead?
  • Are the mega deals back on the horizon? 
  • Are experts taking a more data driven approach to dealmaking?
Gunvor Ellingsen
Gunvor Ellingsen Head of Corporate M&A, Corporate Strategy and Dealmaking, Shell
10.20 - 10.45

Fireside chat: A Year of Change – Navigating regulatory issues

The regulatory landscape remains a significant challenge for deal teams, as agencies on both sides of the Atlantic have taken a stance against consolidation and have increasingly explored novel sets of concerns in their cases. In this session our experts will discuss how the regulatory landscape is evolving around M&A with a special focus on private equity concerns. Historically a safe topic – will that change?

  • Brexit effect: how does the CMA continue to shape its priorities post-EU?
  • The falling deal count: The number of reviews fell by 39% in 2023 – what trends did the CMA see last year, and what can we expect this year?
  • Finding the right remedy: What are the CMA’s views on remedies, and are they in flux following Activision/Microsoft? Are quasi-structural remedies now acceptable? What about remedy takers – who is the right buyer?
  • PE concerns: When are PE acquisitions triggering concerns? Are concerns limited to roll-up strategies or could other types of PE-led transactions come into focus?
  • Reforms to the Phase II process – tweaks or meaningful changes? What impacts will the changes to the Phase II procedures have on proceedings?
  • The CMA’s global remit: Is the agency more concerned by deals that impact national markets, or multi-jurisdictional deals where the UK is part of the picture?
  • To call-in, or to not call-in: How does the CMA decide what deals to call in, and are these criteria shifting?
Jacob Parry
Jacob Parry Chief Regulatory Correspondent of EMEA, PaRR
10.45 - 11.15

Networking coffee break

11.15 - 12.00

Panel: How should private equity engage in acquisitions of listed assets?

This session will examine how should an acquirer engage with a target board. Speakers will also discuss what deals should boards get involved in and at what stage?

  • What are the key execution risks right now for PE bidders pursuing listed assets? In terms of financing and valuations and otherwise?
  • How does the takeover process, rationale and dynamic shift between full take-privates and acquisitions of carved-out business units? And what about integrating a target into an existing portfolio company vs buying an asset on a standalone basis?
  • What are some key dynamics to consider in the negotiations between a PE bidder and its stakeholders such as consortium partners, financiers, LPs, risk committee, board/management at a portfolio company running the acquisition etc? How may this affect the takeover and what are some pitfalls?
  • On the target side, what are some dynamics at play between the board and its management team plus its shareholders including potential activists? How may this affect the takeover and what are some pitfalls?
12.00 - 12.45

Panel: Activist Investing in Europe

Shareholder activism has been increasing in Europe in recent years, often focusing on M&A-related objectives like putting a company up for sale, pushing for adjusted terms in a transaction, etc. The panel will discuss updates and trends from current cases of activists and how supply chain disruptions, interest rates and ongoing geopolitical situations have made many firms targets, with growing focus on environmental, social and corporate governance causing concern. 

  • What are activist investors looking for in their targets? 
  • Which industries more or less prone to shareholder activism and what sectors are high on an activists list?
  • Which European countries are ripe for activists? Where do you see activism picking up on the continent and where do they dare not go? 
  • How do you see European companies as ESG performers relative to the rest of the continent? Is there any greater scope for ESG-related value creation?
  • How can activism change the dynamics in the boardroom? 
12.45 - 13.45

Networking lunch

13.45 - 14.10

Keynote speaker: Premonitions for Private Equity in 2024

Private equity activity is still driving global deal flow; however, with higher interest rates and the ongoing market saturation thwarting momentum, the outlook is still shaky yet optimistic. This session will examine the potential 2024 holds and risk factors we must face in this evolving market. As the macroeconomic, social and geopolitical tensions continuously shift and after a period of stability and growth: 

  • How will the top investors and investments be impacted? 
  • How can managers adapt in this fluctuating world?
  • How are the private equity leaders managing known risks and preparing for the unknown in the current climate?
  • What’s coming next – fortune or misfortune? 
14.10 - 14.55

Panel: Financing and fundraising challenges – Securing equity and debt to get deals done

Although European buyout funds raised a historically impressive EUR 220bn in 2023, more than a third of this total was taken up by just four funds, and fundraising is continuing to be challenging due to tight liquidity amid low levels of distributions to LPs from exits. Meanwhile, sponsors are having to adjust to a much higher cost of capital on the debt side. With both equity and debt dynamics changing, our panellists will share their views on what this means for private equity dealmaking and fundraising.

  • What tools are available to sponsors to finance deals?
  • How can sponsors secure their capital structures in this environment?
  • How can sponsors get fundraises over the line in a tough market?
  • Is the private equity industry able to adjust to “higher for longer” interest rates?
  • What does all of this mean for the future of PE deal returns?
Harriet Matthews
Harriet Matthews Funds Editor, MERGERMARKET
14.55 - 15.35

Panel: UK Private Equity outlook – Reasons to be cheerful?

In 2023 PE exits and deal activity count in the UK market hit lows not seen for more than 10 years, with private equity practitioners contending with stubbornly high inflation and interest rates. But it’s not all doom and gloom – sponsors are bracing for a wave of pent-up deal and exit demand after a sluggish 2023. With a general election on the cards for 2024, our panellists will provide insights on how the market is shaping up.

  • What kind of dealflow can we expect to see in the UK private equity market this year?
  • Do the dynamics at play in the UK market make it more appealing for foreign GPs?
  • How might a change in government affect LP appetite for the UK?
  • What innovations and qualities should UK GPs demonstrate to win over LPs?
15.35 - 15.55

Afternoon networking coffee

15.55 - 16.15

Fireside Chat: The New Reality of Exits – How to complete a successful exit?

Sponsor exits were down almost 62% from 2022 at USD 300bn according to Mergermarket data. With valuations causing typical exits routes to grind to a halt, our panel of experts will discuss their strategies in this space and what steps they are taking to achieve a successful exit. They will also discuss whether LPs should expect longer holding periods to continue and what impact this will have on liquidity and returns.  

  • Trade sale vs. IPO vs. sale to fund or financial sponsor – which route is best in the current market? 
  • Are investors are thinking of M&A as an exit opportunity with more activity in this area higher compared to the past few years?
  • Are GPs under pressure from LPs to sell, or are some firms taking a wait-and-see-approach? 
  • Given the glimmer of hope in the IPO market in recent months, are GPs optimistic this exit route is resurging?
  • Should private equity funds consider dual-track processes as an exit strategy? 
  • Will the exit market pick up pace in 2024?
Rachel Lewis
Rachel Lewis Private Equity Senior Reporter, Mergermarket
16.15 - 17.00

LP’s perspectives on European opportunities – Taking the long-term view?

Given the recent economic uncertainties the way institutional investors approach the current investment environment is determined by several factors, including portfolio maturity, strategic objectives, and risk appetite. Our panel of investors will take stock of the current situation and discuss their strategies for the region.

  • What are the biggest issues impacting allocation decisions?
  • How is the LP-GP power dynamic evolving – what is the new role of an LP? 
  • What investment committees are asking that they weren’t a year ago and under what circumstances would LPs back a first-time fund?
  • What are LP’s feelings on continuation funds and fund diversification?
  • Do LP’s prefer a pan-regional coverage or sector specialist managers?
  • How are LPs responding to questions on ESG and portfolio valuations?
  • How do LPs feel about liquidity solutions within their portfolios and managing liabilities in secondary transactions.
Harriet Matthews
Harriet Matthews Funds Editor, MERGERMARKET
17.00 - 18.00

Dealmakers and Trailblazers Women's Networking Reception is Back!

Join us for a networking reception that celebrates women in M&A and Private Equity! Hosted by Mergermarket and CMS, this event is open to all delegates of the conference.

At Dealmakers and Trailblazers you'll have the opportunity to connect with other women in the industry face-to-face, exchange experiences and best practices, and learn about different sides of the business. It's a chance to make meaningful connections with other professionals in the same field.

We believe that gender equity and inclusivity are important values, and we want to create a networking event that reflects that. That's why we're inviting everyone to join us, regardless of gender identity. Allies who support gender equality and inclusivity are welcome too! So come join us for an exciting evening of networking, learning, and inspiration!

Bettina Kramer-Braun
Bettina Kramer-Braun General Counsel, Deutsche Börse Group