Citizens Capital Markets

M&A Outlook 2019Still a Sellers Market – for Now

Companies have a clear viewpoint about 2019: the economy is expected to be strong and an active M&A market will continue. Yet, we also saw unmistakable signs of uncertainty and even apprehension about the future.

There’s reason to believe a softer economy would still support a high level of M&A activity, at least for buyers. Some buyers have retreated from the current market based on premium valuations, and their interest would likely be revived if and when pricing eases. We saw this in 2009 and 2010, as a handful of companies took advantage of a ravished market to find deep-value opportunities.

For sellers, a more pronounced slowdown could present a conundrum. They could be faced with the reality of putting their exit strategies on hold until market conditions rebound, and hope that company performance holds up in the meantime. When we consider that a typical sale process can take 8-12 months to fully close, it’s reasonable to believe these considerations may impact how sellers prioritize their M&A initiatives in 2019.

Another Strong Year is Expected

The majority of companies believe that 2019 will be another robust year for M&A activity.

What’s Driving the Continued Strength?

  • An expanding economy
  • A supportive regulatory environment
  • Beneficial corporate tax policies
  • Low interest rates

Anticipate another strong year

Frequent Solicitations are Making Companies More Likely to Consider M&A


Increase in M&A solicitations


Average solicitations per month

External Growth is a Big Driver for Buyers

Many companies are having trouble generating sufficient growth organically and are expecting growth to come from an external source, particularly M&A.


Potential buyers actively engaged in an M&A transaction or open to one

Buyer Interest is Equally Divided

Bolt-on Acquisitions

Transformative Acquisitions



Would consider international acquisition

The Capital Markets are expected to remain accommodative in the year ahead and the majority of buyers believe interest rates and debt financing will either aid or have no impact on acquisition plans.

Record Valuations are Attracting More Sellers

If valuations have tempered buyer demand, they’ve had the opposite effect on sellers.

Potential sellers engaged in an M&A transaction or open to one


Sellers would consider an international buyer


  • More likely to retain the current leadership team

  • Provide access to global markets

  • Pay a higher price

Scope of Sale

Relentless focus on growth is driving seller interest in divestitures.

Entire Business

Part of Core Business


Elevated Corporate Valuations are Expected to Go Higher

Amid premium multiples, both buyers and sellers see prices rising in the year ahead.

Expectations of Company Valuations Over the Next Year

46% of sellers and 54% of buyers expected increasing valuations
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How would you characterize current corporate valuations?

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Companies Who Expect Valuation Growth in 2019

B2B Services




Consumer Services


The Advisor Advantage

Buyers and sellers are equally inclined to partner with an advisor as it pertains to their M&A initiatives, a preference that is unchanged by the market backdrop.

Likelihood to Engage M&A Advisor



Top Reasons Why:

  • To speed up process
  • To help with due diligence
  • To help assess an opportunity



Top Reasons Why:

  • To speed up process
  • To help get the best price
  • To help structure financing

The Strong M&A Environment Won’t Last

Most companies believe the M&A market will be strong in 2019, but they also see changes on the horizon.

When Will the M&A Market Change?

What Will Cause the Change?

Rising Interest Rates

Economic Slowdown

2020 Elections

Stock Market Dip


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What can buyers and sellers expect going forward?

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Download the 2-page summary highlighting key findings from the survey.

Contact Us

Contact us to learn how we can help your business reach its potential.

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Jim Childs

Co-Head of M&A Advisory
Citizens Capital Markets



Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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Ralph M. Della Ratta

Co-Head of M&A Advisory
Citizens Capital Markets



Connect with me on LinkedIn.

About Citizens Capital Markets

Citizens Capital Markets provides M&A, capital raising and other financial advisory services to middle market companies across a focused set of industry verticals. We deliver thoughtful advice, keen market insight and superior execution to our clients, both nationally and internationally, and our managing directors average nearly 30 years of experience and have executed more than 700 transactions throughout their careers.

Citizens Capital Markets is a part of Citizens Financial Group, one of the oldest and largest financial institutions in the U.S. Also, as a member of Oaklins, the world’s most experienced mid-market M&A advisory organization, Citizens Capital Markets has unparalleled access to global companies and investors.

If you are interested in learning more about our capabilities and expertise, visit citizensbank.com/commercial.