Our biggest M&A boom: $83b and counting

Original article by James Thomson
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 35 : 9-Jun-21

Some market watchers believe that Australia’s mergers and acquisitions activity in 2021 could top the record $US134bn worth of deals in 2011. Data from Dealogic shows that some $US64.3bn ($82.8bn) worth of M&A deals have been announced in the year to date, compared with just $US56.9bn for the same period in 2011. The surge in M&A activity is being driven by factors such as strong balance sheets and access to low-cost debt, while the boards of target companies have become more willing to engage with suitors following a rebound in valuations in the wake of the pandemic.

CORPORATES
DEALOGIC (AUSTRALIA) PTY LTD

Buyback bonanza for bank investors

Original article by Richard Gluyas
The Australian – Page: 16 : 7-Jun-21

Richard Wiles of Morgan Stanley estimates that the combined surplus capital of Australia’s four major banks is within the range of $19.5bn to $28bn. He says the banks could potentially return about $15bn to investors via share buybacks over the next year, with the Commonwealth Bank tipped to repurchase $5bn worth of shares when its 2021 financial results are announced. Buybacks of this magnitude would reduce the number of bank shares on issue by 3-5 per cent.

CORPORATES
MORGAN STANLEY AUSTRALIA LIMITED, COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA – ASX CBA

Banks, miners set for big payout boost

Original article by William McInnes
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 24 : 26-May-21

Jane Shoemake of global asset manager Janus Henderson is upbeat about the outlook for Australian dividend payouts in 2021. She notes that mining companies and the major banks dominated the list of the 10 biggest dividend payers in 2019 and 2020, and investors are set to benefit from high commodity prices and a rebound in dividend payments in the banking sector. Shoemake also expects energy stocks and defensive retailers such as Coles Group and Woolworths to increase their dividends.

CORPORATES
JANUS HENDERSON GROUP PLC – ASX JHG, COLES GROUP LIMITED – ASX COL, WOOLWORTHS GROUP LIMITED – ASX WOW

Mergers of super funds to cut costs

Original article by Joyce Moullakis
The Australian – Page: 17 : 21-May-21

Consolidation in Australia’s superannuation industry has increased in recent years, including the upcoming merger between LGIAsuper and Energy Super. The merged entity will have $22bn worth of assets under management, which will increase to $28bn when it completes a deal to acquire Suncorp’s wealth business. LGIAsuper CEO Kate Farrar believes that smaller funds will continue to have a role in the super industry, although she expects the average size of boutique funds to increase to between $30bn and $50bn.

CORPORATES
LGIASUPER, ENERGY SUPER

Jobs lost as Qantas earnings nosedive

Original article by Robyn Ironside
The Australian – Page: 13 & 20 : 21-May-21

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said on 20 May that it had lost $16 billion of revenue since early 2020, and that it was likely to post a full-year loss of over $2 billion. The airline will be making more staff redundant, while imposing a two-year wage freeze on management and staff. Joyce called for Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination to be accelerated so that Australia’s international borders can be opened "sooner than later", but only when it is "safe to do so". Unions were not impressed with the airline’s wage freeze plan, while Transport Workers Union secretary Michael Kaine queried why the federal government still kept giving Qantas financial help when it continues to cut jobs.

CORPORATES
QANTAS AIRWAYS LIMITED – ASX QAN, TRANSPORT WORKERS’ UNION

Consolidation looms for local lenders

Original article by Joyce Moullakis
The Australian – Page: 13 & 16 : 12-Apr-21

Global payments and financial services technology group Fiserv processes about one out of every eight payment transactions in Australia. Kees Kwakernaak, the CEO of Fiserv’s Australian arm, expects further consolidation in the local banking sector in coming years. Kwakernaak anticipates mergers at the smaller end of the market in particular. However, he says consolidation in the sector is unlikely to deter non-bank financial services providers from entering the domestic market. Kwakernaak also anticipates greater collaboration among banks, which will be facilitated by initiatives such as the open banking regime.

CORPORATES
FISERV INCORPORATED

Dividends on way back up: Argo

Original article by Cliona O’Dowd
The Australian – Page: 17 : 9-Feb-21

Argo Investments has posted a 2020-21 interim profit of 67m, which is 43 per cent lower than previously. The listed investment company’s half-year result was impacted by lower dividend income, with many companies scaling back their payouts in response to the COVID-pandemic. Argo MD Jason Beddow expects many companies to announce an increase in their dividend payouts during the February reporting season. However, he doubts that dividends will return to pre-coronavirus levels. He says banks and retailers are among the companies that could significantly boost their dividend payouts for the second half.

CORPORATES
ARGO INVESTMENTS LIMITED – ASX ARG

Price boom powers big iron’s profits

Original article by Sarah Turner, Jenny Wiggins
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 13 & 16 : 18-Jan-21

The spot price of iron ore peaked at $US172.36 a tonne during the week ended 15 January. Milford Asset Management’s William Curtayne says earnings forecasts for Australia’s major iron ore producers will need to be significantly upgraded if the price of the steel input remains at around $US165/tonne. Jason Teh of Vertium Asset Management also anticipates strong growth in dividend payouts at BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group, as well as the potential for special dividends and share buybacks. The surging price of iron ore will also boost federal government revenue.

CORPORATES
BHP GROUP LIMITED – ASX BHP, RIO TINTO LIMITED – ASX RIO, FORTESCUE METALS GROUP LIMITED – ASX FMG, MILFORD ASSET MANAGEMENT LIMITED, VERTIUM ASSET MANAGEMENT PTY LTD

Rise in failures a pointer to future

Original article by Patrick Commins
The Australian – Page: 17 : 15-Jan-21

Michael Fung of PwC and Sal Algeri from Deloitte expect the rate of business failures in Australia to be higher than usual in 2021. The federal government has wound back some of the COVID-19 support measures that helped businesses to stay afloat during the virus-induced economic downturn, while the JobKeeper scheme is slated to be phased out in March. Data from the Australian Securities & Investments Commission supports the view that a rise in insolvencies is likely; an average of 60 companies were placed in external administration in the final two weeks of 2020, compared with 13 during the same period in 2019.

CORPORATES
PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS AUSTRALIA (INTERNATIONAL) PTY LTD, DELOITTE TOUCHE TOHMATSU LIMITED, AUSTRALIAN SECURITIES AND INVESTMENTS COMMISSION

Investment bankers brace for deal blitz

Original article by Tim Boyd
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 6 : 11-Jan-21

Australian investment bankers are upbeat about the outlook for mergers and acquisitions activity in 2021. John Pickhaver of Macquarie Capital says local companies are likely to attract interest from foreign suitors, given Australia’s comparative success in combating COVID-19. James Disney of Credit Suisse expects private equity firms to actively pursue acquisitions in 2021. There was a spike in M&A activity in the fourth quarter of 2020, although data from Dealogic shows that the value of announced deals for the full year reached a 10-year low of $US63.2bn ($81.4bn).

CORPORATES
MACQUARIE CAPITAL PTY LTD, CREDIT SUISSE (AUSTRALIA) LIMITED, DEALOGIC (AUSTRALIA) PTY LTD