Mergers and acquisitions transaction activity in the U.S. retail sector jumped 39% in 2012 for deals greater than $50 million, while total deal value more than doubled. These gains point to an industry undergoing major changes, one that is attracting considerable interest from a wide range of players.
In 2012, retail companies sought acquisitions to drive growth and adapt to consumer trends. Many players focused on strengthening their e-commerce and distribution capabilities to expand access to alternative business models. Cross-border M&A flourished, increasing more than 50% in volume and more than 100% in value from 2011. Private equity firms played a major role, accounting for approximately 30% of 2012 deal volume.
These trends should continue in 2013. Corporate balance sheets remain strong. Private equity "dry powder" — or funds available for investment — stands at more than $1 trillion. And low interest rate financing provides further leverage. Putting this cash to work is a priority given the mandate to efficiently deploy capital to secure growth and financial returns. Cross-border and e-commerce transactions are likely to remain at the forefront for corporate investors. Restaurants and specialty apparel retailers are particularly suitable for private equity buyouts.
The challenge lies in identifying quality deals that offer both a strategic fit and an attractive investment return potential. After all, M&A is just a tactic to achieve a business objective quicker or with more value added than other organic options — whether through adjacent brands, geographic expansion, new customer segments or other capabilities.
Also, you must follow a rigorous due diligence process that supports informed decision-making regarding a target's fit with your company's strategy, as well as in determining appropriate deal terms. The following imperatives should be at the forefront of the planning process:
• Establish a team captain who has the ability to coordinate with all functional teams. Getting everyone on board as to the key focus areas will minimize potential headaches later on.
• Focus diligence on the key value drivers of base business. Make sure you adequately assess the risks and opportunities. Areas that merit attention include store key perfor