strong growth operations in Italy

They return great deals, while there was a decline in the number of closed transactions. In the first three months of 2024, according to the KPMG reportoperations were recorded for approximately 14.6 billion euros (+55.2% compared to the first quarter of 2023) which represent over 40% of the values ​​recorded in the whole of 2023 (equal to 35.1 billion euros). A result that was essentially determined by the closing of some large deals above one billion euros. Volumes, however, are slowing down: after a record three-year period in terms of the number of transactions, which on an annual basis have always stood at around 1200, 2024 began in a more prudent way, recording only 272 deals in the first three months (-24.4 % compared to the first quarter of 2023). It is important to note, however, that this figure is still higher than what was recorded in the first 3 months of the years preceding 2020.

The management of operations

Approximately 60% of the values ​​recorded in the first quarter relate to acquisitions made by Italian entities towards foreign targets. Among these, we remember a further strengthening in the field of healthcare holding company of the Agnelli family (Exor), which after recent investments in Philips, Institut Mérieux and Lifenet, purchased 10.1% of Clavirate, a company based in London (listed on the NYSE) for 500 million euros, which offers the results of scientific studies and research and academic in various fields, including health.

In terms of numbers, domestic M&A (Italy on Italy) represents over 50% of operations concluded in the first quarter of 2024, these deals are made up of medium-small operations which represented approximately 12% of the values ​​for the period, a sign of continuous consolidation of the Italian industrial sector. An example of this in the industrial segment is the recent acquisition of GMM SpA, a leading company, which operates in the sector of design and construction of bridge saws for the stone industry, by the Biesse Group. In the fashion industry, beyond Minerva Hub (which during the first months completed the acquisition of four other companies: Goretti, Deadema, Teknomabel and Estro Lab), more and more companies are contributing to the creation of specialized hubs. The group Dear Mosconi recently acquired 70% of the Como company Tintoria Comacina, active in the dyeing and finishing of classic silk fabrics, with the aim of creating a hub concentrating synergies and skills in the textile production process; Fashion Holdingfounded by Claudio Rovere, has further strengthened its presence in the leather goods segment with the acquisition of Emmetierre and Fast Pelle, Florentine artisan companies specialized in the production of small leather goods and handbags for the main international luxury brands.

The role of Private Equity

In the first 3 months of 2024 there was a resumption of operations completed by Private Equity (including add-ons and divestitures) which in terms of value participated in deals for approximately 8.2 billion (56% of the total), with amounts exceeding the approximately 5.2 billion recorded in the whole of 2023 (15% of the 2023 total). Among the main transactions closed in March 2024, the acquisition of the majority (50.2%) of Autry International, an Italian company active in the production and marketing of premium sneakers, by Style Capital SGR for a value of 300 million euros. The founding partners of the Doro family will maintain a significant share of the company, supported by Made in Italy Fund II, the Private Equity vehicle of Quadrivio & Pambianco which they will reinvest in the Company. Also in the last month, the operation relating to the entry into ENI Plenitude of the Swiss fund EIP Energy Infrastructure Partners through a capital increase of 588 million euros for a share equal to approximately 7.6% of the share capital. This operation aims to further strengthen the Company's financial structure and catalyze its growth path towards the energy transition.

A look at the stock market

Looking at the stock market, there are 5 companies that were listed in the first quarter of 2024 on the Euronext Growth Milan segment: i) Kruso Capital Company specialized in granting pawn loans to private individuals, ii) Egomnia IT services companies, iii) Exp Company operating in the development, implementation and integration of industrial energy systems, iv) Palingeum Company active in geotechnical and geognostic services in the civil construction and infrastructure sector for industrial operators and public administrations, and v) Bertoletti Company active in the design, production and marketing of handling, transport and storage systems for industrial materials and components for the professional segment. Instead, they abandoned the list through a takeover bid: i) Pierrel (OPA by Fin Posillipo, holding company of the Petrone group) Pharmaceutical company and ii) Renegetics (OPA launched by CVA -Compagnia Valdostana delle Acque – through the subsidiary CVA EOS) Company active in the renewable energy sector mainly in the role of developer of photovoltaic projects. The procedure voluntary delisting it was instead chosen by: i) CNH Industrial (now listed only on the NYSE) and ii) Softec, Company listed on the EGM, active in the digital transformation sector. We also note the acquisition, with consequent delisting from the London Stock Exchange, of ScS Group by Poltronesofa for approximately 116 million euros. The Company is active in the retail sale of sofas and armchairs with approximately 100 stores distributed throughout the United Kingdom.

The main sector trends

At a sector level, the three main macro-sectors to which approximately 85% of the values ​​recorded in the first quarter of 2024 are attributable are: i) Energy & Utilities with 5.7 billion euros; ii) Industrial Markets with 3.4 billion euros; iii) Financial Services with 3.3 billion euros.

Outlook 2024

The expected pipeline for 2024 on the Italian market in terms of announced, but not yet finalized, operations far exceeds 30 billion euros in value. Among the deals awaiting closing we remember, in the Energy sector, the agreement of IS IN THE for the sale of generation assets (for 1.3 billion euros) and of distribution, supply and advanced energy services assets in Peru (for 2.9 billion euros), as well as the agreement for the sale to A2A of 90% of a NewCo in which the electricity distribution activities in some municipalities in the provinces of Milan and Brescia will be transferred (for 1.2 billion euros). Also worthy of note is the imminent sale of a 35% stake by the Moratti family of Saras to Vitol, a company operating in commodity trading based in the Netherlands. In the TLC sector there is great anticipation for the closing of the sale by Telecom of the fixed network merged into NetCo.

In the Consumer Markets sector, within the year the following is expected: i) the closing of the record acquisition of Campari Group of the French Courvoisier cognac from Beam Suntory for around 1.2 billion euros; ii) the delisting of Tod's Group following the takeover bid launched by Crown Bidco (L Catterton) and iii) the listing of Golden Goose, a leading company in the high-end sneakers sector, whose majority is currently held by Permira. In the Financial sector, in the Insurance sector, we will see the reorganization of the shareholding structure of Unipol Group. The plan provides for i) the merger by incorporation of UnipolSai Assicurazioni, Unipol Finance, UnipolPart I and Unipol Investment into Unipol Gruppo, (Companies wholly owned by Unipol Gruppo which hold equity investments in UnipolSai); ii) together with the launch of a takeover bid by Unipol Gruppo on all the ordinary shares of UnipolSai not held.

Still in the Financial Services sector, in addition to the aforementioned greater contestability of MPSall eyes are on the expected divestment by the MEF of further shares of Italian post (for approximately 2 billion euros). Furthermore, the Board of Directors of Azimutha group active in managed savings, included in the FTSE MIB, has approved a project that involves the spin off of a part of the Italian network of Financial Advisors which will merge into a new digital bank with the aim of listing it within 6-9 months.