DealMakers - Q3 2023 (released November 2023)
by Marylou Greig
The recent World Cup win by the boys in green and gold brought much needed relief, albeit for a fraction of time, from the daily bombardment of negative news that has become a way of life for South Africans. But like all good things, this hype has faded, and our attention is once again focused on making the best of, let’s face it, a very difficult setting.
M&A activity is, by its very nature, resilient in tough times – rather, it is the type of deals completed that changes. Nevertheless, the industry has come under pressure. For the period from January to end-September 2023, deal activity declined 26% year-on-year, and almost 40% when compared with deal activity in 2021 (pg 6). Private Equity, an important driver in the dealmaking space, also declined – down 36% on the previous year. This issue carries an interesting article on unlocking private equity exits in the face of increasing uncertainty (pg 64).
It is becoming increasingly clear that South Africa’s approach to foreign affairs will play an important role in determining investment and growth outcomes for the country. While investor interest is present, with a good supply of deals in the pipeline, the challenge is getting them across the line. Investor sentiment – weighted down by the macroeconomic environment, geo-political influences, and the impending local elections – is adopting a wait and see attitude.
A worrying trend (pg 21) is the exit of companies from Africa’s largest stock exchange, the JSE. Over the past six years (excluding 2023), an average of 25 companies have delisted each year. For the year to end-September, 19 companies have delisted, with a further five set to do so within the coming months. New listings have all but dried up. Private equity has been identified as one reason for the loss of listings, providing financing in softly regulated private markets. In 2017, the JSE welcomed 21 new listings; in the year to September 2023, this figure had dropped to three. An article in this issue (pg 67) covers efforts by the JSE to encourage new listings, while secondary listings on A2X continue to increase, with 18 recorded for the period under review.
As the year end approaches, our energies have shifted to the 24th Ansarada DealMakers Annual Awards, to be held on 13 February 2024. The nominations for the subjective awards have started to come in, and I would like to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to Nicky Newton-King, Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa and James Formby, who constitute the Independent Panel, for their time and enthusiasm as they take on the difficult task of selecting the winners of 2023.
As we speed headlong towards the ‘annual migration’ that is the end of the year holidays, DealMakers wishes you all a safe trip to wherever you may be headed. Enjoy the time with family and friends, as 2024 is likely to be another demanding year.