M&A activity may increase after pandemic

Stockholm, Sweden

Memoori predicts that the fall-out from the pandemic could result in higher M&A activity.

By the end of 2019 researchers Memoori had produced a number of reports suggesting that there would be a rise in the value of M&A activity throughout 2020 and beyond due to the fragmented nature of the physical security industry and the consolidation process that was already underway.  Now, the researchers believe that due to problems caused by COVID-19, small/medium sized companies may look to merge or be acquired as a lifeline, and this could result in a higher volume of acquisitions and a slightly higher value than they had originally forecast.

M&A data collected by Memoori over the last 18 years shows that the physical security industry, has gone through 4 cycles of growth and decline in the value of activity, sometimes exaggerated by a number of billion dollar deals in one year and occasionally deals carried out by businesses outside the physical security industry from the defence, IT communications and private equity businesses.  According to the analysts, the average annual value of merger & acquisition deals in the industry over the last 13 years is $6.7Bn USD, with the largest share being contributed by the video surveillance business.

In 2019 the value of M&A fell to $2.9bn a reduction of approximately 12% on the 2018 value, while analysis of the trends over the last 18 years showed that M&A measured by value has fallen significantly to levels not previously seen since between 2000 and 2003.

Competition has heightened and profit margins have fallen in some sectors of the physical security business in the last 3 years, but overall it has performed well when compared with industry in general. There remains plenty of scope for consolidation and the potential for business growth is high over the next 5 years despite the potentially short term major problem of COVID-19.

The structure of the industry is still very fragmented with hundreds of small companies finding it increasingly difficult to compete and it looks inevitable that the general trend line of value and volume of mergers and acquisitions will regain its momentum over the next 5 years but at a more modest growth by value of deals.

Over the last 18 years there has been a general upward trend in consolidation within the industry, which equates to a modest CAGR of 5%. However more recently there has been a lack of buyers from outside the business, particularly the defence and IT industries, whilst private equity retained a modest interest in the physical security industry in 2019.

So at the end of 2019 we had forecast a rise in the value of M&A activity and Memoori believes that through 2020 and the first 6 months of 2021 the consequences of COVID-19 will give rise to a higher volume of acquisitions and a slightly higher value than we forecast in 2019.

"It seems inevitable that COVID-19 will weaken the financial status of most companies particularly small to medium size ones which only account for 13.5% of the value of the physical security business but 90% by number. M&A offers a life-line and theoretically a better future for these companies. Many small to medium companies could seek out opportunities to merge or be acquired."

Memoori also predicts that companies in the more attractive segments of the business such as ACaaS / VSaaS and AI video analytics will be sort after not just by buyers from within the physical security industry but also from outside the business including private equity companies.

The major western companies in the business have not in the last two years used M&A as part of their business strategy. The analysts suggest that maybe COVID-19 will cause them to review it again and seek out opportunities causing a new cycle of investment.


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