The inaugural Boston Smart Business Dealmakers Conference kicked off this past week with a deep dive into the factors that could shape the M&A environment this year. Citizens M&A Advisory Managing Director David Dunstan, pulling data from Citizens Annual Middle Market M&A Outlook, says supply chain is top-of-mind for many executives surveyed. It's expected to be a factor whether buyers are acquiring up or down the supply chain, technologies, manufacturing capabilities, suppliers along that supply chain or domestic production capabilities.
Also, on the sell side, even though companies are resilient and performing well, he says survey data indicates there is an element of fatigue, particularly for private company business owners. That comes mostly from the impact of the myriad challenges companies have faced in recent years.
"Bottom line, it has been mentally, emotionally, physically challenging," Dunstan says. "So, certain business owners are saying, look, it's a wonderful environment, our company's performing, valuations are high, and I am beat up. It would be great to get some liquidity, maybe bring on a private equity partner, sell to a strategic."
That fatigue is compounded by what's being reported as a lack of succession options for business owners — not having someone they could rely to turn that business over to. And that, for many owners, is driving the decision to sell.
"There's growth momentum here, there's supply chain dynamics, there's fatigue, there's succession planning — a number of factors which are impacting the M&A market," he says.
On the buy side, respondents said some 60 percent of their expected growth will come through acquisitions, which suggests another active deal year. Also continuing to impact the market is the significant influx of cash on corporate balance sheets and in private equity coffers. Dunstan says though interest rates are creeping up, serving as a potential foil for another record deal year, they're still near historic lows.
"So, the environment to drive investment through acquisition is really ripe for M&A," he says. "That's part of what is driving this activity and the supply demand dynamic to really push prices up and M&A activity up. It's a number of factors, the perfect storm in many ways, to create a robust M&A market for 2022."
Dunstan, along with Citizens Northeast Regional Executive Jerry Sargent, Safe Harbor Marinas CEO Baxter Underwood and Locus Robotics Founder Bruce Welty explore how executives are faring in the ongoing war for talent, the impact of current supply chain issues on dealmaking, and whether the frenzied M&A market will stay hot. Read on for an excerpt from that conversion or hit play on the video above to catch the full panel discussion.