Foreign investments in German companies remain high

Destination Deutschland 2020: M&A Activities by Foreign Investors

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Steve Roberts ist Ihr Experte für Private Equity bei PwC Deutschland

Steve Roberts
PE Leader Germany & EMEA
Tel: +49 69 9585-1950

Deals involving foreign investors declined by ~7%

Albeit the global Covid-19 pandemic and its economic consequences, foreign investors have been investing less in German companies than in the prior year, however, deal count remains high. The average volume of private equity transactions has increased compared to 2019 (€ 234 million respectively € 211 million). In particular, the technology sector proved attractive with private equity investors primarily involved in small and medium-sized transactions. These are the key findings of our recent study "Destination Germany. M&A Activities by Foreign Investors in 2020" ("Destination Deutschland. M&A-Aktivitäten ausländischer Investoren 2020") that considers transactions announced between January 1, 2016 and November 15, 2020.

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Overview of the study

Only ten deals fewer in the period up to November 15, 2020 compared to the same period in the prior year – pandemic also presents opportunities for investors

Against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated macroeconomic uncertainties, foreign investors showed only slightly more restraint on the German market in 2020 than in the prior year. A total of 745 deals had been announced by November 15, 2020 (comparable period in 2019: 755). By the end of 2020, experts believe that the number of deals will have fallen by 6.6% from 912 (full year of 2019) to 852 transactions. The total value of deals is also likely to drop from € 64.7 billion to € 61 billion.

"Overall, there was a minor decrease in the number of deals in 2020 due to Covid-19. Nevertheless, by November 15, PE had made more deals than in 2018 and 2017. This demonstrates a desire among financial investors to view the pandemic as an opportunity and to use it. Foreign investors showed particular interest in the technology and healthcare sectors."

Steve Roberts,PE Leader Germany & EMEA
Infografik zu Dealaktivitäten seit Q1/2017 von PwC Deutschland

European investors hold significantly larger share in total value of deals

In 2020, US investors held a strong lead in terms of the amount invested in German companies. By November 15, 2020, they had concluded the most deals with 155 transactions (total value: € 23.5 billion). As was the case in the prior year, they were followed by investors from Great Britain (89 deals, total value of € 2.4 billion) and Switzerland (71 deals, total value of € 1.4 billion).

The share of takeovers of and investments in German companies attributable to European investors (including Russia) rose slightly from 50% to 52%. In terms of the total value of deals, their share increased even more significantly than in 2019, rising from 37% to 46%.

Infografik zu Deals nach Herkunft des Investors von PwC Deutschland

Technology sector most popular area of investment in 2020

German technology companies proved the most attractive to foreign investors in 2020 with a total of 185 transactions taking place in this sector. This represents a rise of 27% (2019: 146 transactions). The increase in interest here is primarily attributable to the Covid-19 pandemic because it has resulted in the accelerated digitalization of products and business models in numerous sectors. Retail followed in second place with 175 deals and industrial production accounted for a total of 140 deals.

Infografik zu Dealaktivitäten nach Sektoren von PwC Deutschland

Private equity investors show restraint regarding large deals

In the period up to November 15, 2020, private equity investors were mostly involved in small and medium-sized transactions (89% of all PE deals with published deal volumes). This is an increase of 16% compared to the full year of 2019. PE involvement in large and mega-deals was significantly lower. Four of the ten mega-deals in 2020 were made by a financial investor, including the largest deal in Germany – the acquisition of ThyssenKrupp’s elevator branch by Advent and Cinven. By November 15, 2020, the absolute number of large and mega-deals had fallen to 14 as compared to 36 in the same period in the prior year. Nevertheless, the share attributable to financial investors has increased slightly from 50% to 54%.

Infografik zu Deals mit ausländische Investoren nach Anzahl und Volumen von PwC Deutschland


This report provides an analysis of transaction activities by foreign investors in Germany. The data underlying the analysis has been obtained from Thomson Reuters and Mergermarket and covers all deals announced in the years concerned where the target company is from Germany and the parent company of the acquirer is from abroad.

Our analysis considers all mergers, company acquisitions and sales, leveraged buyouts, spin-offs, privatizations and takeovers of minority interests that were announced between January 1, 2016 and November 15, 2020 (excluding deals that have since fallen through or been canceled).

The content of this publication is intended for the information of our clients. It represents the state of knowledge of the authors as of the date of publication. Please refer to the sources cited in the publication or contact the specified contact persons to address any relevant problems. Opinion contributions constitute the views of the individual authors. Rounding differences may arise in the graphics.

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Steve Roberts

Steve Roberts

Partner, PE Leader Germany & EMEA, PwC Germany

Tel: +49 69 9585-1950

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Contact us

Steve Roberts

Steve Roberts

Partner, PE Leader Germany & EMEA, PwC Germany

Tel: +49 69 9585-1950