China now Second-largest Chemical M&A Market

14.03.2016 -

After overtaking Germany as world’s largest exporter a few years ago, China is now moving closer to the US as a major participant in global M&A, says a new report from business management consultancy A.T. Kearney.

One factor, the Chemicals Executive M&A Report says, is that the economy of the People’s Republic is maturing and likely to grow more slowly in future.

Already, Kearney notes, China is a close second to the US as regards chemical M&A activity. In 2015, its share grew from 4% by volume in 2002 to 21%, just behind the US with 22%. In the same period another Asian player, South Korea, saw its share grow from 2% to 6%.

“Over the last 10 to 15 years, China has evolved into a major M&A player,” Linus Hildebrandt, a Kearny principal for Asia Pacific, told the newspaper China Daily, adding that “Chinese companies will be on the hunt for targets with world-class technology in mature markets like Europe.”

Even before its recent nearly $43 billlion bid for Syngenta, ChemChina’s purchase of tire maker Pirelli for $7.7 billion in 2015 and its takeover in early 2016 of plastics machinery manufacturer Krauss Maffei for $1 billion pointed the way.

According to Kearny, Chinese companies have developed a model for overseas acquisitions that will likely be used to integrate Pirelli and Syngenta. “China generally keeps the existing management and allows the companies to operate independently,” consultant Hildebrandt told China Daily.

The consultants calculate that global chemical M&A deal values rose by 30% last year to $110 billion. Led by ChemChina’s Syngenta takeover and the merger plans of Dow and DuPont, a new record appears to be reached for 2016, they say, as organic growth options are limited, feedstock and oil prices are low, and many companies are looking to round up – or down – their portfolios.