The volume and value of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the first quarter of this year have soared, according to the accounting and financial consulting firm PwC.
According to PwC’s quarterly snapshot, American Power & Utilities Deals: Q1 2016, “The first quarter was the most active for power and utilities in recent history, with 22 transactions (with announced deal values greater than $50M) accounting for $41.4B in value.” The total value of power and utilities M&A activity for last year’s first quarter was $6.8 billion. The fourth quarter of 2015 saw deals worth $11.5 billion, according to PwC.
By PwC’s calculations, the 2016 first quarter saw seven “megadeals”—greater than $1 billion—totaling $39 billion, compared to $7.9 billion in the top seven fourth quarter deals of 2015. Leading the PwC hit parade this year in terms of value was TransCanada’s $13 billion acquisition of Columbia Pipeline Group, a natural gas acquisition announced in March. Next was the $11.5 billion move by Canada’s Fortis to acquire ITC Holdings, a U.S. merchant electric transmission company. Virginia’s Dominion, largely an electric utility, going after Questar, a Utah-based gas company, for $6 billion, was third on the list.
According to PwC’s data, the average deal size in the first quarter of 2016 was $1.9 billion, compared to $959 million in last year’s final quarter, “up 96 percent.” Deals involving renewables tailed off significantly, to 3% compared to 8% in the previous quarter.
PwC categorizes deals as “strategic” or “financial,” meaning those aimed at long-term trends and opportunities and those aimed at immediate financial incentives. The TransCanada acquisition, for example, qualifies as “strategic,” while Irving Infrastructure Corp.’s purchase of Capstone Infrastructure Corp. is rated “financial.” According to PwC, “17 of the 22 transactions” in the 2016 first quarter were strategic, “accounting for 92 percent of deals by value, up from 86 percent of deals by value during the previous quarter.”
Jeremy Fago, PwC’s power and utilities deals guru, said, “Non-generation infrastructure was a driving theme in deals activity in Q1. As renewable and natural gas generation increases its penetration in the U.S. and as utilities look for opportunities in diversifying their customer base, we expect transmission and natural gas infrastructure investment to continue as an investment theme in 2016.”