M&A trends and outlook for 2024

Jonathan Aiken, Partner and Head of London, discussed how a challenging economic environment is spurring the uptake of creative deal structures in a recent Ansarada Global Predictions Interview.

Which sectors, if any, do you believe will move to more aggressive growth strategies in their M&A programs, as opposed to more defensive dealmaking?

Within the mid-market, where we operate, investors strive for profitability and cashflow stability. In today’s complex investment environment, having high-revenue growth yet negative cashflow is completely out of vogue. Companies with a robust history of cashflow generation, for example the more resilient actors in the industrial and services sectors, have become good candidates for financing – or at least they don’t raise questions within investment committees or with their lenders. What one might think of as ‘traditional’ sector areas are outperforming as a result. Another example is healthcare, where macro trends such as aging populations and evolving healthcare needs in a post pandemic environment drive investment. The European luxury market has witnessed strong growth over the past few years. In France, some of the listed flagship leaders have seen phenomenal share price growth. While valuations have recently plateaued, the market boom reflects strong spending patterns of ultra-high-net-worth individuals from different regions across the globe – notably China and East Asia. Industries that have stronger cashflow and are more appealing to investors have been particularly resilient to the pressures within the global deal market. This is relevant to the mid-market, where M&A activity/volume has developed fairly well. It is at the higher end of the market where we have seen some multibillion-dollar transactions constrained due to a lack of availability of capital.

What do you think will be the biggest potential risks or challenges that dealmakers will have to contend with in 2024?

If you speak to dealmakers, the broad consensus would be the impact of unforeseen events. The global dealmaking community has lived through significant upheaval and sustained inflation. The challenges we are facing are significant and require nimble responses to seize new opportunities. Most practitioners believe that being able to react quickly to developing situations is a fundamental survival mechanism. On a micro level, it is worth sparing a thought for those managing their business through transactions, as often we hear of the difficulty in budgeting and forecasting while responding to supply chain disruption. Forecasting uncertainty and responding to market changes take up a disproportionate amount of business leaders’ time, and some do not have the necessary experience to build on. Some managers have not recently experienced significant inflation, for example, or needed to deploy price increases in their market – it is a novel experience for them. Even for leaders with 30 or 40 years of experience, the ability to respond and implement changes can be challenging. This dynamic ties into the broader dealmaking flow, as business leaders face the realization that their typical, traditional five-year business plan will not work in a challenging environment. Some businesses even have trouble forecasting growth over the next 12 months. This inherent uncertainty in the market creates a divergence between buyer and seller expectations – just one reason why dealmakers are experiencing difficulty closing transactions.

In your experience, how much more creative are dealmakers having to be, in terms of alternative deal structures, to bridge valuation gaps and get transactions over the line?

The market has come off a period of red-hot dealmaking in which the seller exercised an enormous amount of power, both in terms of the timing and terms of the transaction. During this period, we saw the dissipation, or disappearance in some cases, of dealmaking mechanisms such as earnouts. Now that dealmakers are operating in a much more uncertain environment, the balance of power has shifted, and some of these traditional mechanisms, including earnouts, are coming back to the fore to bridge the gap between buyer and seller expectations. We are also seeing a change in tack in relation to seller strategy. Whereas even in late 2022 financial sponsors would have run a competitive, fast-paced auction process, through 2023 owners of assets quietly and discreetly tested the market. This takes the form of entering into very specific conversations, seeking validation regarding buyer appetite, and even considering a bilateral process. This cautious, selective approach is very different to what we have seen in previous years. This period of relative quiet may present an interesting market environment for international buyers to consider deal opportunities. Many strategic buyers seeking cross-border opportunities have found it hard to compete against local sponsors within a competitive auction process when the market was booming. Now that valuations are more subdued, and the market is less pressured, it is an interesting time for international buyers. We will begin to see this trend play out, and it will be interesting to see how 2024 unfolds.

Amid a sea of economic and geopolitical challenges, are dealmakers dedicating more resources to due diligence to make sure potential deals get off on the right foot?

We are seeing a rise of vendor diligence across many different markets, even in markets that have not necessarily had a high level of experience in the process. In Asia, for example, a vendor will typically carry out financial, tax and other types of due diligence, whereas this was less common five years ago. ESG analysis is a newer area increasingly pursued. In the corporate carve-out space, a major cause of disagreement over value, and in many cases a potential roadblock in the deal, is within IT services, contracts and costing. In response to this challenge, we have seen a rise in thoughtful preparation of the IT diligence materials linked to IT resources for a dedicated asset and a focus on IT compliance. There is definitely more time and care spent on smoothing over potential issues. On the seller side, effective due diligence is part of de-risking a transaction and enhancing the probability of a deal crossing the line. We also see fairly rigorous and significant diligence analysis on the buyer side. Due to the shift in power between buyer and seller, the former can demand more concessions, and perhaps more price adjustments, by highlighting due diligence findings. It is in their interests to pursue the process vigorously.


About BDA Partners

BDA Partners is the global investment banking advisor for Asia. We are a premium provider of Asia-related advice to sophisticated clients globally, with over 25 years’ experience advising on cross-border M&A, capital raising, and financial restructuring. We provide global reach with our teams in New York and London, and true regional depth through our seven Asian offices in Mumbai, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, and Tokyo. BDA has deep expertise in the Chemicals, Consumer & Retail, Health, Industrials, Services, Sustainability and Technology sectors. We work relentlessly to earn our clients’ trust by delivering insightful advice and outstanding outcomes.

BDA Partners has strategic partnerships with William Blair, a premier global investment banking business, and with DBJ (Development Bank of Japan), a Japanese Government-owned bank with US$150bn of assets. bdapartners.com

The private equity (PE) landscape in Vietnam is becoming increasingly attractive to global investors due to improvements in regulations, governance and corporate profiles. In the early 2000s and before, there was very limited PE activity in Vietnam, a market characterized by a shortage of private enterprises and unclear regulatory framework on private investments. It was not until the 2005 Enterprise Law came into effect that Vietnam first established a common legal framework for the establishment and management of both State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and private enterprises, boosting investors’ confidence for investments in private companies.

Along with the rapid growth of Vietnam’s economy, PE activity has soared since the second half of the 2000s. This can be attributed to a number of factors:

From the quiet days when there was only a handful of small value deals in the early 2000s, PE investors have been gradually playing a much bigger role in Vietnam’s M&A market. Larger deals involving PE investors have become more common – there were more than 30 deals valued at US$100m or higher over the last five years[1], while the top ten largest PE transactions of all time in Vietnam all occurred during this period. For Vietnamese businesses, PE funding brings in not only much needed capital for growth or additional liquidity for shareholders, but also important corporate governance guidelines and operational know-how of international standards for optimal value generation. Institutional presence among the cap table would also highlight the legitimacy and sustainability of the business models of local enterprises, which in turn enhance their attractiveness to more global investors.

DateInvestorTargetSectorValue (US$m)Stake
Jun-20KKR’s consortiumVinhomesReal Estate6516%
Oct-18SK InvestmentsMasan GroupConsumer4749%
Aug-18Hanwha Asset ManagementVingroupDiversified403Undisc.
May-21Alibaba, BPEAThe CrownXConsumer4006%
Dec-18Warburg PincusTechcombankFinancial Services3704%
Dec-21TPG, Temasek, ADIAThe CrownXConsumer3505%
Jul-19GIC, SoftbankVNPayTechnology300Undisc.
Jan-19GIC, MizuhoVietcombankFinancial Services2643%
Jun-22Warburg PincusNovalandReal Estate250Undisc.
Jul-21General Atlantic, DragoneerVNPayTechnology250Undisc.
Figure 1: Top ten all-time largest PE transactions in Vietnam

Emerging trends

1. Rising competition in dealmaking from global funds: In the earlier days, most PE transactions in Vietnam involved local funds given their advantages in familiarity with the investment landscape, with examples such as Indochina Capital-Hoang Quan (2006)[2], Mekong Capital-MobileWorld (2007)[3], and VinaCapital-PNJ (2008)[4]. Over time, more and more global PE firms have established local presence in Vietnam, with dedicated investment teams and network of advisors on the ground to start building their track record in the country. While local funds remain active in the market, global funds, with stronger financial capabilities, have been dominating the investment landscape – as evidenced in the list of top ten all-time largest PE transactions in Vietnam

2. Minority vs. control/buyout transactions: Minority transactions are still more popular for PE investors in Vietnam given the lack of onshore deal financing options commonly found in buyout transactions and risk aversion as most funds still have relatively short track record in the country. However, the market has witnessed several buyout transactions in the past, especially in the Healthcare and Education sectors such as CVC-Phuong Chau(2021)[5], BPEA-Vietnam USA Society English Centers (2019)[6], TPG-Vietnam Australia International School (2017)[7], and Navis-Hanoi French Hospital (2016)[8]. From our recent interactions with regional PEs, we understand that there is a growing appetite for control/buyout deals in Vietnam, driven by both record levels of dry powder and the maturation of the investment landscape.

3. Growing importance of ESG topics : ESG topics are no longer considered as a matter of compliance but have become opportunities to unlock value and present key selling points to potential investors. More investors have been appointing specialized ESG advisors for due diligence, while aligning with the target companies on having strong ESG values ingrained in corporate culture as part of deal negotiation and post-deal integration.

Looking ahead – Sectors to watch for PE activity in Vietnam

Consumer

Healthcare

Education:

Financial Services

Logistics:

Technology

The PE market in Vietnam has changed drastically since the early 2000’s as we have experienced more favourable conditions. Going forward, we expect not only the number of deals to increase, but the size of deals in Vietnam to grow as PE investors seek opportunities.   


[1] Source: Mergermarket

[2] https://vnexpress.net/indochina-capital-mua-cp-hoang-quan-2696691.html

[3] https://www.mekongcapital.com/our-investment/mobile-world/

[4] https://www.investegate.co.uk/vietnam-opp-fund-ltd/rns/investment/200805021205506730T/

[5] https://www.dealstreetasia.com/stories/cvc-capital-phuong-chau-hospital-307941

[6] https://www.globalprivatecapital.org/newsroom/bpea-acquires-majority-stake-in-vus/

[7] https://www.vas.edu.vn/en/news/he-thong-truong-dan-lap-quoc-te-viet-uc-co-nha-dua-tu-chien-luoc-moi

[8] https://www.naviscapital.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Navis-Press-Release-30-June-2016-Acquisition-of-Hanoi-French-Hospital.pdf

[9] https://en.vietnamplus.vn/over-70-of-vietnamese-population-use-internet/231833.vnp


About BDA Partners

BDA Partners is the global investment banking advisor for Asia. We are a premium provider of Asia-related advice to sophisticated clients globally, with over 25 years’ experience advising on cross-border M&A, capital raising, and financial restructuring. We provide global reach with our teams in New York and London, and true regional depth through our seven Asian offices in Mumbai, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, and Tokyo. BDA has deep expertise in the Chemicals, Consumer & Retail, Health, Industrials, Services and Technology sectors. We work relentlessly to earn our clients’ trust by delivering insightful advice and outstanding outcomes.

BDA Partners has strategic partnerships with William Blair, a premier global investment banking business, and with DBJ (Development Bank of Japan), a Japanese Government-owned bank with US$150bn of assets. bdapartners.com

As we approach the halfway point in 2023, it’s clear that the luxury goods market in China and Asia is thriving. This growth is fuelled by the opening of borders post-COVID and the region’s increasing affluence. Today, China alone accounts for over one-third of global luxury sales.


As consumers in the region spend more on retail, beauty, food, lifestyle, and luxury items than ever before, BDA sees opportunities for foreign investors and companies to reach an eager and widespread Asian market.


In our latest insights report, we discuss China’s economy and explore opportunities in other Asian markets. We also identify the subsectors in the consumer and retail space which we anticipate will shine.

The key takeaways in this report are: 

Download the full report


About BDA Partners

BDA Partners is the global investment banking advisor for Asia. We are a premium provider of Asia-related advice to sophisticated clients globally, with over 25 years’ experience advising on cross-border M&A, capital raising, and financial restructuring. We provide global reach with our teams in New York and London, and true regional depth through our seven Asian offices in Mumbai, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, and Tokyo. BDA has deep expertise in the Chemicals, Consumer & Retail, Health, Industrials, Services and Technology sectors. We work relentlessly to earn our clients’ trust by delivering insightful advice and outstanding outcomes.

BDA Partners has strategic partnerships with William Blair, a premier global investment banking business, and with DBJ (Development Bank of Japan), a Japanese Government-owned bank with US$150bn of assets. bdapartners.com

Solar energy in ASEAN presents a compelling investment opportunity for both financial and strategic investors. This is a result of the recent (and potentially continuing) advances in technology and levelized cost of energy (“LCOE”) and the expected regulatory developments.

Energy demand in the ASEAN region:

Investment opportunities:

Download the full report


About BDA Partners

BDA Partners is the global investment banking advisor for Asia. We are a premium provider of Asia-related advice to sophisticated clients globally, with over 25 years’ experience advising on cross-border M&A, capital raising, and financial restructuring. We provide global reach with our teams in New York and London, and true regional depth through our seven Asian offices in Mumbai, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, and Tokyo. BDA has deep expertise in the Chemicals, Consumer & Retail, Health, Industrials, Services and Technology sectors. We work relentlessly to earn our clients’ trust by delivering insightful advice and outstanding outcomes.

BDA Partners has strategic partnerships with William Blair, a premier global investment banking business, and with DBJ (Development Bank of Japan), a Japanese Government-owned bank with US$150bn of assets. bdapartners.com

China’s private equity (“PE”) industry faced strong headwinds in 2022 due to factors including a slowing economy, Covid-19 restrictions, increased regulatory scrutiny, and higher prevailing interest rates globally which weighed on public market valuations. PE exits and fundraising had been challenging during the past year.
 
However, the China market underwent a dramatic change in recent months as the country’s Zero-Covid policy was relaxed and borders were reopened. The Chinese government implemented measures to boost the economy and private sector investments. This report provides our perspectives on how these changes may impact PE activities and China M&A market in 2023. 

The key takeaways in this report are: 

Download the full report


About BDA Partners

BDA Partners is the global investment banking advisor for Asia. We are a premium provider of Asia-related advice to sophisticated clients globally, with over 25 years’ experience advising on cross-border M&A, capital raising, and financial restructuring. We provide global reach with our teams in New York and London, and true regional depth through our seven Asian offices in Mumbai, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, and Tokyo. BDA has deep expertise in the Chemicals, Consumer & Retail, Health, Industrials, Services and Technology sectors. We work relentlessly to earn our clients’ trust by delivering insightful advice and outstanding outcomes.

BDA Partners has strategic partnerships with William Blair, a premier global investment banking business, and with DBJ (Development Bank of Japan), a Japanese Government-owned bank with US$150bn of assets. bdapartners.com

The FinTech sector in Southeast Asia (SEA) has been flourishing in recent years, with ever-increasing capital flowing into the region from global investors and market leaders. In our latest insight, we take a closer look at the key trends that make SEA an attractive FinTech market, the dynamics within key FinTech verticals, and how we expect financing activity to evolve.

Key takeaways:

State of the Tech markets

SEA FinTech landscape and exit thoughts

Download the full report


About BDA Partners

BDA Partners is the global investment banking advisor for Asia. We are a premium provider of Asia-related advice to sophisticated clients globally, with over 25 years’ experience advising on cross-border M&A, capital raising, and financial restructuring. We provide global reach with our teams in New York and London, and true regional depth through our seven Asian offices in Mumbai, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, and Tokyo. BDA has deep expertise in the Chemicals, Consumer & Retail, Health, Industrials, Services and Technology sectors. We work relentlessly to earn our clients’ trust by delivering insightful advice and outstanding outcomes.

BDA Partners has strategic partnerships with William Blair, a premier global investment banking business, and with DBJ (Development Bank of Japan), a Japanese Government-owned bank with US$150bn of assets. bdapartners.com

Although COVID-19 did not completely hamper M&A deal flow in Vietnam, travel restrictions and a strict lockdown in the second half of 2021 posed major challenges for buyers and sellers alike. With the gradual unwinding of COVID-related restrictions and the resumption of international flights in October 2021, M&A activity has accelerated. The economy has recovered quickly and the outlook for dealmaking is positive.

Top 10 M&A transactions in Vietnam (October 2021 – August 2022)

DateInvestorTargetDeal size (US$m)Stake
Oct-21SMBC Consumer FinanceFE Credit1,40049%
Jul-22Swire PacificCoca-Cola Indochina1,015100%
Dec-21TPG, Temasek, ADIAThe CrownX3504%
Nov-21SK HoldingsThe CrownX3455%
Dec-21MizuhoMomo200Undisclosed
Feb-22AC EnergySuper Energy’s nine solar plants16549%
Oct-21UBS, Mirae, STICTiki136Undisclosed
Apr-22Hana Financial GroupBIDV Securities11835%
Aug-22MasanPhuc Long15534%
Apr-22Indorama VenturesNgoc Nghia Industry9498%

 Source: Mergermarket

Key drivers propelling post-pandemic deal flow

Vietnam’s economic recovery has proven appealing to investors – it was one of the few countries that recorded two consecutive years of GDP growth in 2020 and 2021 during the height of COVID. According to the General Statistics Office, Vietnam achieved 2.58% GDP growth in 2021[1], despite experiencing one of the strictest lockdowns in the world during the second half of that year. Looking ahead, the Asian Development Bank is forecasting that Vietnam’s economic growth will recover to 6.5% in 2022[2]. In fact, GDP growth in Q2 2022 was 7.7%, the highest quarterly growth in the last ten years.[3]

Pent-up dealmaking demand is a key driver. Both strategic investors and financial sponsors have a large amount of capital to invest and are keen to identify new opportunities or revive discussions that were on hold. Industry leaders are actively looking for acquisitions to consolidate market share within their verticals, taking advantage perhaps of competitors weakened by COVID and slower to rebound. In addition, many companies are looking to position themselves for recovery in the post-pandemic economy and need new capital injections for internal transformation and further growth in order to remain competitive.

The resumption of international travel is also significant. In-person due diligence and site visits have facilitated many deals that were previously put on hold, especially for asset-heavy industries such as industrials, logistics, and healthcare. Since October 2021, BDA has met with numerous foreign investors who have expressed a strong interest in Vietnam. After a two-year hiatus, BDA organised its annual networking event in Ho Chi Minh City in May 2022 with over 200 participants – mainly investors and corporate shareholders – and all appreciated the opportunity to reconnect in person and discuss the future.

Trends expected to persist post COVID

Domestic investors had an advantage over their foreign counterparts during COVID given their local presence, and this led to an increase in domestic deal flow and volume. Although COVID-related border restrictions have now been lifted, BDA has seen local conglomerates continuing their acquisition spree in a market that has historically been dominated by foreign buyers. For example, in addition to its investment in Phuc Long, Masan also acquired a 25% stake in Trusting Social, a company engaged with credit scoring based on social data, for US$65m in April 2022. This was another transaction in which BDA acted as the exclusive advisor to the target company. Nova Group has been on an acquisition spree, expanding its ecosystem with a focus on Consumer businesses, having acquired and taken over the operations of major F&B establishments such as Jumbo Seafood, Sushi Tei, Crystal Jade, and PhinDeli.

From a deal negotiation perspective, BDA has observed several points that have become particularly important during deal negotiations. With material adverse change (“MAC”) clauses, buyers and sellers now need to acknowledge the risk of a significant downturn in the business as a result of COVID. MAC provisions typically exclude market-wide macroeconomic impact, but since COVID has different effects on different industries, the negotiation of specific triggers in MAC clauses needs to be scrutinised. Earn-outs have become more common by bridging valuation gaps under scenarios of temporary uncertainty, while also enabling sellers to share in the upside of long-term growth. Warranty and indemnity (“W&I”) insurance, a rare option in Vietnam deals in the past, is also being used more frequently, as both buyers and sellers appreciate the benefit of a smoother and faster signing and closing process.

During the height of domestic lockdown and border restrictions in 2021, virtual interaction was the only option in most cases for M&A transactions in Vietnam. We expect that for non-key discussions, virtual meetings will continue to be a common option in the future. However, for other key parts of the transaction process such as site visits and due diligence, which were supported by on-the-ground advisors and virtual tours during COVID, and especially for negotiations, in-person participation will still be preferred going forward.

Global slowdown in M&A in 2022 and beyond

Global M&A in H1 2022 is down 21% by value and 17% by volume compared H1 2021[4], partly due to the cooldown in SPAC-related transactions. Inflationary pressure across the supply chain, geopolitical tensions, and a rising interest rate environment have also contributed to the volatility that could become a recurring theme in the M&A market over the next year or so.

Inasmuch as businesses in Vietnam are not immune to these factors, we still believe that 2022 will remain another busy year for Vietnam’s M&A market. Investors have not shown any reduced appetite in dealmaking in Vietnam, as evidenced in their interest in BDA’s ongoing mandates. We believe that there are a lot of high-quality assets that have proven resilient against turbulence brought about by COVID that are now well-positioned for robust growth, and we look forward to a busy period ahead with a long list of current live deals and ongoing opportunities.

Tailwinds for future growth in M&A in Vietnam include:

Most attractive sectors in Vietnam for M&A

Consumer

Healthcare

Education

Logistics

Financial Services

Renewable Energy


[1] https://e.vnexpress.net/news/business/data-speaks/vietnam-finishes-2021-with-2-58-pct-gdp-growth-4409596.html

[2] https://www.adb.org/countries/viet-nam/economy

[3] https://baochinhphu.vn/gdp-quy-ii-2022-tang-truong-772-102220629090231152.htm

[4] https://www.allenovery.com/en-gb/global/news-and-insights/publications/global-ma-transactions-drop-over-20-percent-but-bright-spots-remain


About BDA Partners

BDA Partners is the global investment banking advisor for Asia. We are a premium provider of Asia-related advice to sophisticated clients globally, with over 25 years’ experience advising on cross-border M&A, capital raising, and financial restructuring. We provide global reach with our teams in New York and London, and true regional depth through our seven Asian offices in Mumbai, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, and Tokyo. BDA has deep expertise in the Chemicals, Consumer & Retail, Health, Industrials, Services and Technology sectors. We work relentlessly to earn our clients’ trust by delivering insightful advice and outstanding outcomes.

BDA Partners has strategic partnerships with William Blair, a premier global investment banking business, and with DBJ (Development Bank of Japan), a Japanese Government-owned bank with US$150bn of assets. bdapartners.com

In the last few years, several trends have gained traction in Japan’s M&A market. The trends had already begun to take hold before COVID, which did not slow their development. In our latest insight, we take a closer look at three of the most significant trends, which are interrelated and are driving one another: 1) divestments by Japanese companies; 2) the ever-increasing activity of PE funds; and 3) the growing influence of activist funds.

Key takeaways:

Japanese companies are increasingly willing to divest non-core subsidiaries and assets, driven by changing perceptions about corporate divestments

Divestments by Japanese companies are proving to be fruitful targets for PE funds, who are aggressively entering Japan market and raising record levels of capital

Another set of investment funds, activist investors, have stepped up their activity in Japan, embarking on campaigns against large companies to pressure them to increase corporate value

Source: Dealogic

Download the full report

Download the full report in Japanese


About BDA Partners

BDA Partners is the global investment banking advisor for Asia. We are a premium provider of Asia-related advice to sophisticated clients globally, with over 25 years’ experience advising on cross-border M&A, capital raising, and financial restructuring. We provide global reach with our teams in New York and London, and true regional depth through our seven Asian offices in Mumbai, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, and Tokyo. BDA has deep expertise in the Chemicals, Consumer & Retail, Health, Industrials, Services and Technology sectors. We work relentlessly to earn our clients’ trust by delivering insightful advice and outstanding outcomes.

BDA Partners has strategic partnerships with William Blair, a premier global investment banking business, and with DBJ (Development Bank of Japan), a Japanese Government-owned bank with US$150bn of assets. bdapartners.com

There has been a distinct focus on ESG and sustainability in Asian private equity deal activity in the first half of 2022, with implications for new investments, portfolio management and exits. We have seen this trend accelerate as we advise on a series of such transactions this year.

Asian sponsors are evaluating deals through an ESG lens

Western sponsors have thus far largely led the way on ESG considerations in M&A, with their APAC counterparts lagging behind. According to a recent Bain[1] survey, only 65% of APAC sponsors expect their LPs to scrutinise ESG issues over the next three years, compared to 96% and 80% for North America and Europe respectively.

However, the ESG agenda in Asian business is now picking up significant momentum. The survey[2] also found 57% of Asian GPs plan to materially increase their ESG efforts over the next three to five years, up from 30% in 2019. This goes beyond just compliance and regulatory reporting, with more and more funds adopting an explicit – and exclusive – focus on new investments that will have both a positive impact and generate higher financial returns.

These twin goals are no longer seen as contradictory, rather, self-reinforcing. In a McKinsey Global Survey[3], C-suite leaders indicated they would be prepared to pay a 10% premium to acquire a company with a positive ESG track record versus a company without one. Furthermore, the consensus was that ESG programmes created value over the short and long term.

PE funds are proactively issuing ESG/sustainability related reports (i.e. EQT, Partners Group, Carlyle, and Permira, all with a major presence in Asia) which have started to disclose ESG measurements at the fund and portfolio company level, including scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions, energy consumption, diversity and inclusion metrics, corruption, etc. Those that have set up an ESG reporting framework and roadmap for each portfolio company across the investment lifecycle will be better placed for a successful exit.

Asian GPs: increasing their focus on ESG / Sustainability  

Asian GPs: % of assets evaluated with ESG due diligence

Source: Bain Asia-Pacific Private Equity Report 2022

Deal types

Robust and high ESG standard gives an investment opportunity a competitive edge, without which will greatly hinder financial sponsors’ deal appetite, whether deploying dedicated “impact-labelled” funds or generalist capital. We have witnessed exceptional demand for ESG-oriented business models in 2022 such as: validation of supply chains and workforce conditions, responsible electronic waste recycling and a range of renewable energy plays. Conversely, the manufacturing of consumer items that lack a sustainability narrative find it harder to navigate the investment committee stage. Investment committees are also putting greater focus on ESG at the M&A decision making stage and more are avoiding certain end markets with a high carbon intensity.

“BDA is building a solid track record in sustainable infrastructure and services in Asia, and globally for Asian clients.”

Lars Freitag, Managing Director and Head of Sustainability: Services & Infrastructure, BDA Partners

Renewable Energy

E-waste Recycling & IT Asset Disposition

ESG & Supply Chain Services

Exit implications for PEs

ESG is now front and centre in both M&A due diligence and the value creation playbook.

For M&A due diligence, the role ESG plays can vary from a simple red flag checklist to a dedicated ESG vendor due diligence report (with comparisons to market competitors, emissions calculations etc.) or even a full-scope ESG value creation assessment. Red flag reports are rapidly becoming the norm in Asia, but the latter two are less common due to on-going challenges such as insufficient data for benchmarking (making it too difficult to correlate to value) or lack of expertise (to effectively analyse the data). There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to ESG due diligence and should be assessed on each specific transaction, sector, client, etc. as different businesses will present different ESG issues to be considered.

We are finding that, when presented with an acquisition opportunity, sponsors are asking ‘How does this business make the world a better place?’ Without a convincing answer to potential investors in our marketing materials and due diligence, any sellside process is more at risk, even in Asia.”

Paul DiGiacomo, Managing Partner and Head of Financial Sponsor Coverage, BDA Partners

Aided by such references as Principles for Responsible Investment (“PRI”), Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (“SASB”) and UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (“SDG”), sponsors are encouraging Asian portfolio companies to not only implement action plans to improve ESG performance and reporting, but also ensure that such steps generate robust and quantifiable data to increase accountability. The clear expectation is that being ready to present sustainability KPIs will pave the way for a smoother and more remunerative exit.

One example is the Baring Private Equity Asia (“BPEA”) stewardship of HCP, the Shanghai-headquartered packaging company serving the global cosmetics market. Since its acquisition in 2016, BPEA drove a transformation of HCP’s ESG and sustainability capabilities, including developing refillable packages and use of sustainability-certified manufacturing facilities.This greatly facilitated the onward sale to Carlyle, which was announced in May and should close in Q32022.

ESG considerations are being tracked and monitored by management and shareholders, and are quickly becoming an important value creation strategy in Asia, including for building brand equity.”

Mark Webster, Partner and Head of Services, BDA Partners

Who is doing what: selected PE Sponsors’ ESG moves in Asia

  • Baring Private Equity Asia, the regional PE powerhouse that set up a US$3.2bn ESG loan for APAC investment in 2021 – and has pioneered the implementation of ESG measures across its portfolio including HCP, sale to Carlyle announced (May 2022)
  • Goldman Sachs’ portfolio company LRQA acquired Hong Kong-headquartered ELEVATE, the supply chain verification and worker engagement platform (from EQT – May 2022*)
  • Navis capitalised on the circular economy thematic, exiting Singapore HQ TES, the electronic waste recycler and IT Asset Disposition service provider, to SK ecoplant of Korea (April 2022*)
  • Serendipity Capital’s portfolio company Pollination, the climate change advisory and alternative investment platform, attracted US$50m in Series B capital from ANZ (January 2022*)
  • StonePeak leading infrastructure specialist that targets assets globally, including dedicated capital for Asia, announced industry-leading ESG commitments alongside measurable and reportable plans to achieve them, including rigourous sustainability targets and the introduction of related performance incentives (March 2022)
  • Temasek and BlackRock created Decarbonization Partners, a US$600m partnership focusing on late-stage venture capital and early-stage growth funds for decarbonisation in 2021. In June 2022, Temasek announced the launch of GenZero, a green investment firm with an initial $5b pledge, a testimony of its commitment to halve the net carbon emissions of its portfolio by 2030 using 2010 as a base and achieve net zero by 2050.

* BDA transaction


[1] Bain Asia-Pacific Private Equity Report 2022

[2] Ibid

[3] www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability/our-insights/the-esg-premium-new-perspectives-on-value-and-performance, February 2020.


About BDA Partners

BDA Partners is the global investment banking advisor for Asia. We are a premium provider of Asia-related advice to sophisticated clients globally, with over 25 years’ experience advising on cross-border M&A, capital raising, and financial restructuring. We provide global reach with our teams in New York and London, and true regional depth through our seven Asian offices in Mumbai, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, and Tokyo. BDA has deep expertise in the Chemicals, Consumer & Retail, Health, Industrials, Services and Technology sectors. We work relentlessly to earn our clients’ trust by delivering insightful advice and outstanding outcomes.

BDA Partners has strategic partnerships with William Blair, a premier global investment banking business, and with DBJ (Development Bank of Japan), a Japanese Government-owned bank with US$150bn of assets. bdapartners.com

BDA Partners hosted our inaugural China Growth Capital Conference on April 26th – 28th.  20 presenting companies from consumer, health, services and technology sectors gave presentations to growth capital investors in over 200 virtual one-on-one meetings.

Anthony Siu, Partner and Co-Head of Shanghai, said: “Our 3-day virtual conference was a big success.  It was BDA’s first growth capital conference and it attracted over 300 investors from 150 PE firms to participate in our conference.  The attendees included blue-chip global and China USD funds as well as China RMB funds.  We also received strong support from Founders and CEOs of high-growth companies in China to present at our conference.  These companies represent industries which are at the forefront of China’s economic development including digital health, in-vitro diagnostics, premium healthcare services, lifestyle & wellness and fintech.  The strong turnout reflects investor appetite for high-quality companies set to benefit from China’s rapid transformation toward an advanced economy.  It also demonstrates ample private market liquidity seeking mid to late stage opportunities in China.  We are very pleased to be the partner of choice for our clients in bringing private capital and exciting growth opportunities together.”

We look forward to our next BDA China Growth Capital Conference in 2023, and also the annual BDA PE Conference in late 2022. Please contact us at gcc@bdapartners.com or pe-conference@bdapartners.com if you would like to learn more about either conference, and the benefits of both presenting and attending. 


About BDA Partners

BDA Partners is the global investment banking advisor for Asia. We are a premium provider of Asia-related advice to sophisticated clients globally, with over 25 years’ experience advising on cross-border M&A, capital raising, and financial restructuring. We provide global reach with our teams in New York and London, and true regional depth through our seven Asian offices in Mumbai, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, and Tokyo. BDA has deep expertise in the Chemicals, Consumer & Retail, Health, Industrials, Services and Technology sectors. We work relentlessly to earn our clients’ trust by delivering insightful advice and outstanding outcomes.

BDA Partners has strategic partnerships with William Blair, a premier global investment banking business, and with DBJ (Development Bank of Japan), a Japanese Government-owned bank with US$150bn of assets. bdapartners.com