Business News

French outbound M&A driven to decade high by big deals

FILE PHOTO: Sunglasses from Ray Ban, a Luxottica owned brand, are on display at an optician shop in Hanau, Germany, March 18, 2016. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - French companies have spent more on overseas acquisitions so far this year than in the same period over the past decade, marking a sharp rebound from 2016, Thomson Reuters data released on Tuesday showed.

Outbound merger and acquisition activity by French firms has reached $40.8 billion (31.55 billion pounds) so far in 2017, up from less than $5 billion over the same period in 2016 when there were 243 deals, compared with 213 in 2017, the data showed.

French transactions involving companies in other European countries accounted for 79 percent of the total outbound M&A volume so far this year, with the Americas in second place with 20 percent of the total.

Of the total French outbound M&A activity so far in 2017, 65 percent was in consumer products and services companies, followed by industrials with 16.4 percent, the data showed.

The activity was dominated by Essilor International’s $25.2 billion all-share acquisition of Italian eyewear group Luxottica in January.

In the second biggest overseas deal by a French company so far this year, an investor group which included French waste and water group Suez bought GE Water for 3.2 billion euros ($3.48 billion).

On Sunday France elected Emmanuel Macron as president with a business-friendly vision of European integration which could stoke European cross-border transactions.

U.S. investment bank Citigroup leads the league table of advisers so far this year for deals involving outbound French M&A, advising on deals worth $30.8 billion, giving it a 75.4 percent share of the market.

Reporting by Dasha Afanasieva; editing by Alexander Smith