2021, rebound and recovery for deal-makers in emerging Europe

2021 transaction levels rised to 2,015 deals (up 18.2%), but emerging Europe saw overall deal value reach its highest level since 2013, EUR 94.27bn (up 55.1%). 

Private equity is now firmly embedded in the dealmaking culture of emerging Europe, says latest CMS report. 

Building on 2020’s buoyant numbers, private equity activity rose further with deal numbers at an all-time high (399) and values up 18% (EUR 23.75bn).

IPOs also enjoyed a bumper year as the number of listings surged to 116 (up from 26) and values jumped to EUR 13.47bn (up from EUR 4.79bn).

These figures reflect the success of regional stock exchanges, such as Warsaw, Bucharest and Istanbul, in attracting new listings.

Leading sectors 

Telecoms and IT topped the deal tables once again and accounted for five of the ten biggest deals of the year.

Transaction numbers rose to 450 (up from 333) and the sector saw the overall highest deal value at EUR 23.4bn.

Significant Telecoms deals included the sales of Polkomtel Infrastruktura and UPC Polska in Poland, and the sales of České Radiokomunikace and a 30% stake in CETIN in Czechia.

Meanwhile, notable software deals included the EUR 7.3bn sale of Avast Software in the Czech Republic and the EUR 1.6bn purchase of game developer Nexters Global by Kismet.

Real Estate and Construction was the second busiest sector, experiencing 340 deals (up from 310) and a 3.8% rise in deal value (EUR 9.83bn).

Despite experiencing a 19% drop in deal numbers, offices remained the top real-estate sub-sector.

Similarly, Warehousing and logistics also maintained its sub-sector ranking, reflecting the ongoing shift to e-commerce.

Manufacturing was the third busiest sector with 253 transactions (up from 236) and second by value at EUR 18.26bn.

Meanwhile, Mining, Oil and Gas was the third largest sector by value at EUR 10.59bn, though it was one of the few sectors where deal numbers declined (down to 105 from 124). 

Growing investor interest in climate action helped drive up the overall number of energy and utility deals to 122 (from 73), and the sector accounted for 6% of overall transactions (up from 4.3%).

The renewables sub-sector saw particularly impressive growth in both deal activity and value, numbering 81 deals (up from 44) and a fourfold increase in value. 

Country hotspots 

Three notable M&A hotspots included Croatia, Romania and Ukraine, whose deal numbers each exceeded those achieved prior to the pandemic.

Croatia saw deal numbers and values hit record highs of 69 (up 60.5%) and EUR 1.8bn respectively (387.4%).

Meanwhile, deal activity in Romania also made the record books (195 transactions, up 43.4%), however, deal value was down by 9.6% (EUR 2.37bn).

Ukraine’s deal numbers strongly recovered (up 57.1% to 143) and the country’s overall deal value doubled to EUR 1.72bn.

Foreign and regional investment reaches new heights 

United States was the most active foreign country investor. US deal numbers rose to a decade high of 154 (up from 94) and values reached a record high of EUR 9.17bn. 

Top three European investors were the UK (106 deals), Germany (81 deals) and France (54 deals). 

These same three countries also topped the charts for European investor deal value.

Germany led the pack (EUR 3.13bn), with the UK (EUR 2.08bn) and France (EUR 1.91bn) following in second and third place respectively. 

The UAE moved up the foreign investor ranking to secure tenth position for its deal numbers, the highest outside the US and Europe. 

What is emerging Europe?

Emerging Europe includes Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, and Ukraine.