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EV Industry M&A Outlook

EV Industry M&A Outlook

Auto, Aviation & Transportation

According to a recent 2022 research report from Bain & Co. the intensifying competition for electric vehicle market share is prompting M&A activity across the industry. 

The disruptive changes such as electrification, digitization, and automation are requiring manufacturers to pursue M&A to acquire disruptive technologies on a faster timescale than feasible via organic growth. 

For context, the automotive industry has typically undervalued M&A capabilities. As recently as 2016, most activity involved traditional scale deals aimed at expanding manufacturing capabilities to achieve cost synergies that come with economies of scale. 

However, with the rise of electric vehicles spearheaded by the innovation and success of Tesla, the automotive industry finds itself in the midst of the biggest period of disruption in its history. 

As of October 2021, there were 48 deals valued greater than $100 million, totaling a staggering $47 billion compared with 29 deals and $20 billion in 2020. 

Future Expectations

Moving forward, inorganic acquisitions will enable companies to quickly develop required new capabilities to keep up with competitors. 

According to research from Bain, scope deals (in which companies seek new capabilities and access to new markets), represented about 70% of automotive and mobility transactions with deal values greater than $100 million. 

For example, Qualcomm, a company known for semiconductors, software, and wireless tech, recently teamed up with investment group SSW Partners to purchase Swedish automotive tech company Veoneer to expand its offering for autonomous driving services.

The rapid technological capabilities of cars are forcing manufacturers and suppliers to seek specialists in fields such as autonomous driving. This is the reason established automotive companies are now cooperating with Silicon Valley giants. 

In a recent midyear outlook from PWC, they report that deal activity in global automotive M&A has cooled down from the highs of the 2021 market. This decline can be attributed to the increased geopolitical tensions, inflation, rising interest rates, and record oil prices. Given the uncertainty, executives have paused their acquisitions across most industries to focus on shoring up their businesses to weather the volatile conditions. 

Yet in the face of this uncertainty, PWC suggests that the underlying fundamentals favor a recovery of M&A activity driven by capital inflows into new-energy vehicles and computer-aided software engineering technologies.

PWC also sees distressed M&A playing a meaningful role in the second half of 2022. And into 2023 due to the possible recession. Furthermore, the higher interest rates and supply chain issues add stress to many companies just recovering from the effects of the pandemic. The availability of capital could fuel financial buyer activity as they seek opportunities to enter a transitioning industry at cheaper valuations than recent periods. 

EV Charging M&A Market Heating Up

One particular area of the electric vehicle transition set to see an increased level of M&A activity is the electric charging segment. 

The EV charging sector is already undergoing a consolidation wave with energy companies trying to expand their value share and geographic coverage. For example, this Junes, Blink Charging has agreed to acquire SemaConnect in a $200 million deal. 

Additionally, many substantial companies with deep pockets have entered and are moving aggressively. This trend can be seen by BP’s $170 million acquisition of Chargemaster, Britain’s largest EV charging company, in late 2018.

Global management advisory firm ADL says, “Consolidation is ongoing and expected to intensify. Some EV charging business models employ classical scale games, and many will fail.” The firm expects that the sector is moving towards an integrated charging-as-a-service business model. 

Experts believe that most EV charging-related M&As will involve public companies. For reference, a growing number of EV charging players have gone public through IPOs and mergers with SPACS. 

Meanwhile, multiple traditional players such as utility companies, electrical equipment manufacturers, and oil companies – virtually all of which are publicly listed – are entering the sector, driving further M&A activity. 

With the explosive growth of a new segment, M&A activity is expected to remain strong throughout the next few years, as major players fight for lucrative market share. 

Case Study:

This June, Blink Charging (NASDAQ: BLNK) announced the signing of a definitive agreement to acquire SemaConnect, a leading provider of charging infrastructure in North America, for $200 million. 

The cash and common stock transaction will add nearly 13,000 EV chargers to Blink’s existing footprint, an additional 3,800 site host locations, and more than 150,000 registered EV driver members. 

With this acquisition, Blink Charging will be the only EV charging company to offer complete vertical integration from research and development and manufacturing to EV charger ownership and operations. This vertical integration will be critical in Blink’s quest to control its supply chain and accelerate its go-to-market speed while reducing operating costs. 

SemaConnect will bring its in-house research and development, hardware design, and manufacturing capabilities in the deal. With SemaConnect’s manufacturing facilities in Maryland, Blink will be able to capitalize on the $7.5 billion EV infrastructure deal issued by Biden. 

The combination of SemaConnect’s robust hardware product line will complement Blink’s extensive software product offerings, solidifying itself as an industry leader in the EV charging field.

Additionally, the acquisition of SemaConnect hardware will accelerate Blink’s expansion across multiple geographies, including California.

Lastly, the deal is a transformative acquisition for the EV charging industry and for Blink. Moreover, the expectation is that more deals of this nature will continue, as we are witnessing the early stages of a transformative industry. While there are many small players now, anticipate further consolidation to create larger, more vertically integrated EV charging networks.

Written by Andrew Bernstein

EV Industry M&A Outlook
Sources:

“Automotive and Mobility M&A.” Bain, 8 Feb. 2022, www.bain.com/insights/automotive-m-and-a-report-2022/.

“Blink Charging Announces the Transformative Acquisition of EV Charging Leader SemaConnect, Further Expanding Its Network and Capabilities.” Blink Charging, blinkcharging.com/news/blink-charging-acquires-semaconnect/?locale=en.

“EV Charging Sector M&a Activity Set to Boom This Year.” Capital.com, capital.com/ev-charging-sector-m-a-activity-set-to-boom-this-year.

Palumbo, Angela. “Blink Agrees to Acquire SemaConnect in $200 Million Deal.” Www.barrons.com, www.barrons.com/articles/blink-charging-stock-buy-51655214119. Accessed 21 Aug. 2022.

PricewaterhouseCoopers. “Automotive: Deals 2022 Midyear Outlook.” PwC, www.pwc.com/us/en/industries/industrial-products/library/automotive-deals-outlook.html.

EV Industry M&A Outlook

Auto, Aviation & Transportation
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