German companies remain the focus of foreign investors

PwC study 2021: M&A activity at new five-year high

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Steve Roberts

Steve Roberts
Head of Private Equity at PwC Germany
Tel: +49 69 9585-1950

Very high deal activity on the German market

Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and a difficult market environment, M&A transactions between foreign investors and German companies reached a new record high in 2021: 1206 transactions took place by the reporting date of November 15, 2021, with an average deal volume of €302 million. Strategic investors accounted for 56.6 % of all deals and private equity investors for 43.4 %.

The report "Destination Germany. M&A Activities of Foreign Investors 2021" by the auditing and consulting firm PwC Germany analyzes all mergers, company acquisitions and sales, leveraged buyouts, spin-offs, privatisations and acquisitions of minority stakes in German companies by foreign investors announced between January 1, 2017 and November 15, 2021.

“German companies remain very attractive for foreign investors. This is due, among other things, to the strong and diversified industry, the workforce which is well educated by international standards, and the reliable infrastructure.”

Steve Roberts,Head of Private Equity at PwC Germany

The study at a glance

In terms of deal numbers, US investment companies in particular were very active on the German market in 2021, as in the previous year. They accounted for 22 % of all M&A transactions (265 deals) and 25.8 % of the total value of all deals (€27.8 billion). In second place came investors from the UK (132 deals, €3.3 billion total deal value), and in third place came investors from France (120 deals, €14.4 billion total deal value).

By number and value of announced deals from 2017 to YTD21

The share of European investments (incl. Russia) in German companies also increased further: While in 2020 a total of 612 transactions were attributable to investors from Europe, in 2021 the figure was 757 deals.

Number and value of deals according to the headquarters of the Private Equity investor

Focus on technology, industrial production and retail & consumer

Also as in 2020, most deals took place in the technology sector, with 328 by the November 15, 2021 deadline, up more than 50 % compared with 2020 as a whole. Industrial manufacturing came in second (257 deals by November 15, 2021), with retail & consumer in third place with 219 M&A transactions.

Number of Deals by Industry Sector

The sectors in the focus of strategic investors remained the same as in 2020, but the emphasis shifted somewhat: They were almost equally involved in the technology (167 deals; 2020: 95) and industrial production (165 deals; 2020: 120) sectors, followed by retail & consumer (120 deals; 2020: 130).

In terms of M&A transactions with private equity involvement, the technology sector dominated by a wide margin (161 deals) compared with retail & consumer (99 deals) and industrial production (92 deals).

More mega deals and more private equity involvement in them

In 2021, more mega deals (total value of more than €1 billion) took place by November 15 than in the entire previous year: instead of 17, there were now 21. Private equity companies were also involved in them significantly more frequently than in 2020 (2021: 8 out of 10, 2020: 4 out of 10).

The majority of 84 % of all transactions with private equity participation and disclosed deal value were smaller (less than €50 million) and medium-sized (€50 to 250 million deal volume). This corresponds to 6 percentage points less than in 2020.

By number of announced deals from 2018 to YTD21

The top 10 deals in 2021

The top 10 deals in 2021

“Private equity investors are increasingly venturing into mega deals. This underlines the growing importance of private equity. More and more companies see Private Equity as an attractive form of investment compared to other alternatives.”

Steve Roberts,Private Equity Leader Germany & EMEA


This report presents an analysis of transaction activity by foreign investors in Germany. The underlying data comes from Thomson Reuters and Mergermarket and includes all deals announced in the respective years where the target company is from Germany and the parent company of the buyer is from abroad.

Our analysis takes into account all mergers, acquisitions and disposals, leveraged buyouts, spin-offs, privatisations and minority stake acquisitions announced between January 1, 2017 and November 15, 2021, excluding those deals that have been cancelled or aborted in the meantime.

The contents of this publication are intended for the information of our clients. They reflect the authors' knowledge at the time of publication. To resolve relevant issues, please refer to the sources indicated in the publication or contact the named contacts. Opinion pieces reflect the views of the individual authors. Rounding differences may occur in the graphs.

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Steve Roberts

Steve Roberts

Partner, PE Leader Germany & EMEA, PwC Germany

Tel: +49 69 9585-1950