2014 was a limited success year for mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in Southeast Europe (SEE), but an analysis of deals already announced in 2015 indicates an improving outlook. In the past couple of years, the M&A activity in most SEE countries suffered to differing degrees from slower economic growth, the small size of the national consumer markets and political instability. Nevertheless, local specifics rather than common features tended to determine the main drivers of M&A in each country.
Romanian car maker Dacia, a unit of France’s Renault since 1999, surpassed oil and gas group OMV Petrom as SEE’s largest company in terms of total revenues in 2014. The company’s revenues rose 2.2% to over 4.2 billion euro while net profit climbed 10.2% to 83 million euro on the back of increased demand for its no-frills, reliable models.
Banca Comerciala Romana (BCR), a member of Erste Group since 2006, is Romania’s largest financial group. Besides universal banking operations, including retail, corporate and investment banking, treasury and capital markets, the group also provides leasing and asset management services, among others. BCR’s network includes more than 560 retail units, over 2,100 ATMs and 13,500 POS terminals.
LAUNCHub is a 9.0 million euro seed fund, based in Bulgaria, investing in the most promising startups in Southeast Europe (SEE). Since 2012, LAUNCHub has invested over 3.5 million euro in 47 portfolio companies. Over 140 founders have joined the big family and in less than two years have managed to attract a further 3.5 million euro-plus of follow-on funding. As of September 2014, LAUNCHub’s portfolio includes companies from nine countries in SEE – Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Greece, Ukraine, Austria and Switzerland.
The slow recovery in the European Union, Southeast Europe’s (SEE) main trading partner, the sluggish prospects facing nearly all economies in the region and shrunken domestic demand all left their mark on corporate bottomlines in 2013. At the same time, long overdue structural reforms, fiscal and regulatory volatility and poor infrastructure continued to be a drag on local businesses. Against this backdrop, the performance of the companies in the SEE TOP 100 ranking was expectedly lackluster – their combined revenues in 2013 were flattish, with nearly half of the entrants seeing a decline in their revenues.
The patchy performance of the economies of the countries in Southeast Europe (SEE) proved a drag on the region’s insurance industry in 2013, leading to a drop of 2.0% to 6.2 billion euro in the combined gross written premiums (GWP) of the entrants in the 2013 edition of the SEE TOP 100 insurers ranking compared to the companies that made the 2012 cut.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) raised its investments in Southeast Europe, a region that has remained particularly vulnerable to the effects of problems in the eurozone, to around 1.65 billion euro in 2013 from 1.5 billion euro in 2012. In 2013, EBRD investments remained strong in Turkey, totalling around 920 million euro. In the Western Balkans and Croatia, the EBRD invested a record 1.2 billion euro in more than 80 projects in 2013.
With activities in exploration and production, gas and power, and refining and marketing, the OMV Petrom Group has proven oil and gas reserves of approximately 775 million barrels of oil equivalent in Romania and Kazakhstan, a maximum annual refining capacity of 4.2 million tonnes, a network of around 800 filling stations in Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria and Serbia, a 860 megawatt (MW) gas fired power plant and a 45 MW wind park. OMV Petrom was acquired by Austria’s OMV in 2004 in the largest privatisation deal Romania had seen up to that point. OMV owns 51% of the company.
The Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB) is an international financial institution established by Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine. Its headquarters are in Thessaloniki, in Greece. BSTDB supports economic development and regional cooperation by providing loans, credit lines, equity and guarantees for projects and trade financing in the public and private sectors in its member countries. The bank’s authorised capital is 3.45 billion euro. BSTDB is rated long-term “A-” by Standard and Poor’s and “A2” by Moody’s.