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Engagement update

We have two situations which are public. The first is NBI Industrial Finance in India, a company which owns shares of a major listed cement company worth almost five times its market cap and which carries on almost no other business.

This month, we sent an open letter to the board which we also released to the press and uploaded to a dedicated website (link).

The letter was structured as a list of questions, in line with our policy of first seeking explanations for corporate behaviour before making our own suggestions.

In the first instance, we are asking: (more…)

By |2020-08-12T14:52:09+08:005 August 2020|Newsletter|

Deal activity still resilient in Asia-Pacific

Recent headlines such as “With M&A Hit, Wall Street Bankers Keep Busy With Stock Sales” (Bloomberg, 28 May), “Bankers fear sustained M&A slump: ‘It’s impossible without face-to-face meetings’” (Financial News, 8 June) and “Pandemic fears grip M&A as deal making slumps to 23-year low in Europe” (MarketWatch, 30 June) suggest a very depressed market for corporate transactions this year.

However, the numbers in Asia-Pacific tell a different story: (more…)

By |2020-07-17T15:42:19+08:006 July 2020|Newsletter|

Current trends in Asia-Pacific M&A

We look at the current opportunity set in Asia-Pacific M&A, and how it has changed since the onset of the pandemic.

The figure below shows the cancellation / completion ratio of Asia-Pacific deals going back twenty years. The chart shows how this year has been a huge outlier, with the ratio moving well above two times, compared with a historical range rarely exceeding one. In other words, in 2020, more than two deals have been cancelled for every deal that has completed. This indicates the scale of the disruption in the M&A space this year.

M&A cancel / complete ratio (x)

What does this imply for M&A investment returns for the rest of the year? We think they will be strongly positive for the following reasons: (more…)

By |2020-06-01T10:19:38+08:0027 May 2020|Newsletter|

A perfect storm

The Covid-19 crisis has created a perfect storm for global M&A:

  • Earnings are falling precipitously. Acquirers are calling off deals by invoking Material Adverse Change (MAC) clauses. Many transactions have either broken or widened out to spreads of 30% to 70%.
  • Even less-risky deals are seeing much wider spreads due to forced de-leveraging. For example, we saw annualised returns in Japan which have been around 2-3% for months blow out to 40%+ at one point.

The disruption in the M&A space has been more severe than during the GFC, as this time the correction has been stunningly abrupt. (more…)

By |2020-06-01T10:19:38+08:003 April 2020|Newsletter|

Dividend distribution tax and holding companies in India

We had a productive trip to India this month, meeting the management and directors of our portfolio companies, their operating subsidiaries, sell-side analysts, journalists and investors.

A frequent topic of conversation was the upcoming abolition of Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT), which is significant for holding companies. (more…)

By |2020-06-01T10:19:38+08:005 March 2020|Newsletter|

The case for tailored relative value

Relative value is a strategy that has, over the years that we have followed it starting in 2007, generally performed well and has produced returns uncorrelated with other strategies and with the broader market. However in last two years the strategy has started to perform poorly for investors. What is the cause?

The figure below shows is an 18-year chart of the MSCI AC Asia ex-Japan Growth and Value indices. Growth tracked Value very closely over the entire period up to 2017. Since then, Growth has significantly outperformed.

MSCI AC Asia Pacific ex-Japan Value and Growth indices, 2002 to present

Why is this? (more…)

By |2020-06-01T10:19:38+08:006 February 2020|Newsletter|
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