Norwegian M&A at a glance – 2019 in review

Haavind’s annual update on Norwegian M&A and Capital Markets

Market Trends

General M&A Trends

Despite the economic and political uncertainties surrounding Brexit, trade disputes and the risk of a future global economic downturn getting closer creating a sense of uncertainty at the beginning of the year, both M&A activity levels and capital markets continued its strong development throughout 2019.

The number of announced M&A deals in 2019 was 468, which is a yet another all-time high compared to 411 in 2018, continuing the strong trend we have seen the last few years.

The Norwegian equity capital markets also continued to be open and active throughout the year with a total of NOK 50 billion of new equity raised in IPO’s and other equity issues by public companies. Although there was a reduction in the number of new listings compared to 2018, a few very large newcomers on Oslo Børs ensured that the aggregate market cap of new issuers on their first day of listing was the highest we have seen since 2001.

We are still in the very early beginning of 2020 and it remains to be seen whether we will continue to see the same high activity levels as we experienced in 2019.

However, our current expectation is that the Norwegian M&A market will continue with high activity levels in 2020. We expect technology, renewable energy, oil and offshore, aquaculture and real estate to continue to be predominant sectors in the Norwegian market.

We expect technology disruption and the demand for innovation to continue to be an increasing trend driving M&A activity within all sectors.

Tech

Technology continues to dominate deal making, with transactions underpinning general IT-trends such as cloud computing, IoT, Big Data analytics, AI and outsourcing. Norway, alongside the Nordic market, sees an increasing number of transactions in the IT-sector space.

In general, valuation levels have increased in the IT sector. Activity continues to be particularly high in the software segment for solutions contributing to digitalisation of company processes and services.

Among the most notable transactions is Ferd’s acquisition of Infotjenester (digitalisation of HR processes) where Haavind assisted Ferd.

Availability of potential targets remains high in the Oil & Offshore sector where Norway’s strong position within the sector has lead to innovation and substantial investments.

2019 has been a year of consolidation in the Nordic IT sector.

The potentially game changing merger between Tieto and Evry – the two largest IT service players – is one of the largest and the most significant transactions taking place within the IT sector in Norway. Haavind assisted Tieto in the transaction.

We still see the tech market fragmented and expect to see further consolidation and “buy and build” scenarios during 2020. In addition to continued activity within software deals, we expect the lack of available talents to lead to high activity within IT consultancy.

Oil & Offshore

The M&A activity within the Oil & Offshore sector in 2019 continued on some of the trends we saw in 2018.

Throughout the year, some international oil companies continued with exiting their activities on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS), with especially ExxonMobile’s sale of their non-operated upstream portfolio to Vår Energi being a milestone transaction. The transaction represented one of the largest assets sale on the NCS, and through the transaction, Vår Energi significantly increased their production portfolio and will be the third largest oil producer on the NCS.

Equinor and Lundin also completed a two-step high-value transaction where Lundin bought back shares from Equinor and Equinor increased their stake in Johan Sverdrup. This transaction also put an end to various speculations with respect to whether Lundin could soon end up being part of a consolidation or take-over.

As informed to the market in connection with their acquisition of stakes in the Draugen and Gjøa fields from Norske Shell, OKEA started their process to list their shares on Oslo Børs, a process that was completed with a listing in June. Haavind advised one of OKEAs majority owners and intial sponsor, Seacrest Capital, in the process.

Transactions within oil & gas infrastructure saw similar trends as in 2018, and showed a continued interest from financial investors.

Within the oil-service/contractor segment, the transaction volume continued to be relatively modest, although there were some activity.

2019 was also a year where the transaction activity showed oil companies investing in the renewable/electricity sector, and Haavind was engaged in several projects of this nature (see also under Renewable Energy/Electricity).

Renewable Energy / Electricity

The high M&A activity within the renewable energy sector continued throughout 2019.

Within power generation, the wind power segment was particularly active with foreign investors continuing to conclude acquisitions involving Norwegian onshore wind power projects. The same projects also involve an increasing number of long term corporate PPAs.

An example from 2019 is Eolus Vind selling the 400 MW “Øyfjellet” wind power project in northern Norway to the German asset and investment manager Aquila Capital. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2021 and the aluminium producer Alcoa will under a corporate PPA purchase the electricity produced for a period of 15 years to power its Norwegian based production plants. Haavind advised Eolus Vind in this transaction.

In addition to wind power, the small-scale hydropower segment remains active, such assets falling outside the rather strict Norwegian regulation of private and foreign ownership to larger hydropower.

The Norwegian grid sector has over some years been subject to reforms and continues to see increased consolidation through mergers and acquisitions between existing grid companies. This trend is likely to grow even stronger in the years to come, implying also more opportunities for foreign investors to invest in sizeable Norwegian grid companies.

The trading/retail sector sees several consolidation processes and a distinct and increasing interest from foreign utilities and other foreign investors looking for trading portfolios within the Nordic and Norwegian market.

Another interesting development is traditional oil and gas companies entering the renewable energy / electricity sector, blurring the traditional division between these sectors. Examples are offshore wind power projects and acquisition of renewable energy production for electrification of oil and gas production fields. Haavind has been involved in both these types of activities during 2019, drawing on the in-depth competence of both our renewable energy and offshore teams.

As almost every other industry, renewable energy is also affected by strong technological innovation, resulting in an increasing number of transactions in the intersection between technology and renewable energy.

Aquaculture

The prices for Norwegian farmed salmon were relatively high also through 2019, and salmon farming is among the most profitable industries in Norway. Farming of other species has also reached a profitable level.

The established aquafarms in Norway have a very good financial position. There has been only a few M&A transactions. Norway Royal Salmon (NRS) ASA’s sale of their activities in the southern region of Norway, Sør Farming AS, to Tombre Fiskeanlegg AS, Lingalaks AS and Eidesvik Laks AS at a price of NOK 1.2 billion was by far the largest transaction in this area in 2019.

As opposed to the fish farming companies, there is a higher M&A activity down the supply chain. Over some years, the Norwegian supplier industry has seen both an increasing consolidation, as well as an increased integration with the farming companies.

An example of the latter is NTS ASA’s merger with the well- and serviceboat division of Frøy Gruppen. Examples of consolidation are Cage Eye AS’ acquisition of Norse Aqua and AquaShip AS’ acquisition of Salmon Starr AS.

Another acquisition to take note of was Mørenot AS’ acquisition of Danish company Hvalpsund Net. The latter assisted by Haavind.

It is also worth mentioning that PE investments in the supply industry has continued during 2019. Examples are Amerra Capital Management’s acquisition of 51 % of the shares in AquaShip AS, and Broodstock Capital’s acquisitions of Therma Industry AS, Maritech Systems AS and Åkerblå AS, the two latter assisted by Haavind.

The ongoing consolidation in the supplier industry is expected to continue over the next years.

There is also an ongoing digitalisation and technological development in both the aquaculture and seafood industry. This creates new and exciting opportunities for market movers, and we might see an increasing number of transactions in this interface.

Real Estate

The Norwegian Real Estate Market in 2019 ended with a registered volume of approximately EUR 9 billion divided on 289 transactions (above EUR 5 million).

The positive sentiment among investors, and the deal flow, is set to act as very positive incitaments for continuing the liquid market into 2020.

The presented forecasts for transaction volume and activity in 2020, is set at approximately EUR 9 billion.

Office is still the largest segment with a 42 % share.

The second largest segment is industrial, a segment driven by demand for logistics assets especially.

The prime office yield estimate is 3.65 %.

In a very hectic year for our Real Estate department, we had, the pleasure to assist in over 50 transactions with a total deal value of approximately EUR 2.5 billion.

Norwegian Transaction Volume

 

* Source: Mergermarket

Major Transactions – 2019 in review

Target: Exxon Mobil Corporation (Norwegian oil and gas assets)
Vår Energi AS, a Norway-based company engaged in exploration and production of oil and gas has acquired the Norwegian oil and gas assets of Exxon Mobil Corporation, the listed US-based energy company engaged in the exploration, production and distribution of crude oil and natural gas, as well as production of automotive lubricants and petrochemicals.
The transaction will end the production of oil and gas of Exxon Mobil in Norway.
Deal Value: EUR 4,113m


Target: Eidsiva Energi AS (50% stake)
Hafslund E-CO AS, a Norway-based power company, has acquired a 50% stake in Eidsiva Energi AS, a Norway-based company engaged in the production and distribution of electricity.
Deal Value: EUR 3,009m


Target: Evry ASA
Acquisition of Evry ASA, the Norway-based and listed IT services company, by Tieto Oyj, the Finland-based and listed IT service and consulting company. The transaction was implemented through a cross-border merger and the combined company was subsequently listed on Oslo Børs with a market cap of the combined company of EUR 3,428m. Haavind advised Tieto on the cross-border merger and listing process.
Deal Value: EUR 1,962m


Target: Adevinta ASA (35% stake)
Schibsted ASA, a listed Norway-based media company that provides news, entertainment, and other interest information services, publishes newspapers, weekly magazines, online newspapers, and personal finance magazines, has spin off its online classified business, into a newly listed company, Adevinta ASA (a Norway-based global online classified company, headquartered in Oslo).
Deal Value: EUR 1,930m


Target: Autostore
Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. (THL), the US-based private equity firm alongside the management of AutoStore, a Norway-based robotics and software company providing automation technology to warehouse & distribution facilities, has acquired Autostore in a management buyout transaction, from EQT Partners AB, a Sweden-based private equity firm.
Deal Value: EUR 1,634m


Target: CapeOmega AS
Partners Group Holding AG, the Switzerland-based alternative asset management company, has acquired CapeOmega AS, the Norway-based oil and gas company engaged in providing infrastructure for transporting natural gas produced on the Norwegian continental shelf and exploration and development of oil and gas assets, from HitecVision AS, the Norway-based private equity firm.
Deal Value: EUR 1,200m

Source: Mergermarket

Capital Markets

Equity Capital Markets and New Listings

A total of NOK 50 billion was raised in new equity during 2019, continuing the strong trend of recent years. Approximately one third of this amount (NOK 16 billion) was raised in connection with initial public offerings by companies immediately prior to being admitted to trading or listing on Oslo Børs marketplaces.

Except for the record year 2017, the amount of equity raised in 2019 is the highest amount of equity raised in the public market since 2001.

The private placement structure continued to dominate as the preferred structure for raising equity.

The number of new listings on Oslo Børs marketplaces continued the negative trend we have seen in recent years with a decline in the number of new companies being listed or admitted to trading compared to 2018. In total 15 companies were admitted to listing or trading, compared to 20 new issuers going public in 2018.

However, although the number of new issuers was quite low, there were some very large newcomers that were listed on Oslo Børs during the year and which made 2019 a record year in terms of the combined market value of companies being admitted to listing. Calculated on the basis of the market cap on the first day of listing, the combined market capitalisation of newly admitted companies in 2019 was NOK 127.5 billion which is the highest amount seen on Oslo Børs since Statoil ASA was first listed on Oslo Børs back in 2001.

Haavind advised on the listing of TietoEVRY which was the second largest listing in 2019 with a market cap on the first day of listing of NOK 32 billion. The largest newcomer on Oslo Børs in 2019 was Adevinta with a market cap on the first day of listing of NOK 60 billion.

Benchmark Index

* Source: Oslo Stock Exchange

 

Norwegian Interbank Offered Rate (Nibor)

* Source: Oslo Stock Exchange

 

Consumer Price Index

* Source: Statistics Norway

 

Haavind Corporate M&A

Advokatfirmaet Haavind is one of Norway’s leading full-service law firms, with more than 120 qualified lawyers offering innovative solutions to legal problems. Corporate M&A is a leading practice group, working closely with strong sector specialists within Oil & Offshore, Renewable Energy / Electricity, Tech and Real Estate.

Read more on our corporate team and services.

Contact Us

Bjørn Olav Torpp
Corporate M&A
b.torpp@haavind.no
+47 905 07 090
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Kjetil Hardeng
Corporate M&A
k.hardeng@haavind.no
+47 480 12 274
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Preben Brecke
Corporate M&A and PE
p.brecke@haavind.no
+47 928 81 416
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Andreas Vik
Corporate M&A
a.vik@haavind.no
+47 995 18 036
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Bjørn Brevik
Corporate M&A
b.brevik@haavind.no
+47 959 65 984
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Cornelius Sogn Ness
Public M&A and Capital Markets
c.ness@haavind.no
+47 906 43 417
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Bård Sandstad
Corporate M&A, Oil & Offshore
b.sandstad@haavind.no
+47 932 81 796
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Magnus Meisingset-Haug
Real Estate Transactions
m.haug@haavind.no
+47 996 01 957
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Jøran Sandvik
Renewable Energy
j.sandvik@haavind.no
+47 400 66 700
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Leif Eirik Thrane
Technology M&A
l.thrane@haavind.no
+47 928 81 439
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Ida Espolin Johnson
Aquaculture
i.johnson@haavind.no
+47 958 18 432
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