Spain: Law and Practice. Chambers Global Practice Guide, Corporate M&A 2019 (2nd edition)

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In 2018, M&A in Spain experienced significant growth compared to 2017, which was already a good year for M&A activity, thus continuing the upward trend that began in 2014

This growth is largely due to the existing liquidity in both the national and international financial markets, low financing costs and the context of economic growth, among other circumstances.

According to specialist sources, 2,454 transactions were announced or closed in 2018, which is an increase of 6% compared to the previous year. Likewise, the volume of transactions has also increased by 19.04%, reaching EUR115.91 billion.

These figures were buoyed up by large transactions such as the joint acquisition of Abertis by Atlantia and ACS for a total consideration of EUR16.5 billion, and the acquisition by CVC Capital Partners (acting in concert with Corporación Financiera Alba) of Repsol’s 20.07% stake in Gas Natural for EUR3.82 billion.

Key Trends
As the political and economic conditions were favourable, the Spanish M&A market performed very well in 2017 and 2018. As a result of low interest rates, low inflation and improved global economic growth, the main deals in Spain in 2017 and 2018 were carried out by private equity and infrastructure funds, as well as key industrial players.

Key Industries
Following the same trend as previous years, the most targeted sectors in 2017/2018 were energy and real estate. Important deals such as the acquisition of Testa Residencial by Blackstone (EUR1.89 billion), the acquisition of Hispania Activos Inmobiliarios by Blackstone (EUR1.9 billion) and the acquisition of the Apple Portfolio by Cerberus Capital Management (EUR1.55 billion) show the prevalence of real estate transactions in the Spanish M&A market.

Examples of large transactions in the energy sector in 2018 include the acquisition of a 20% stake in Gas Natural by CVC Capital Partners (EUR3.8 billion), the sale by Oaktree of Eolia to AIMCo (EUR1.4 billion) and the acquisition by USS Investments of a 50% stake in Redexis from GSIP (EUR1.5 billion).

Other industries that have experienced significant M&A activity in 2018 are banking and financial services, technology, healthcare and the internet sector, all of which are well placed to keep growing in the years to come.