As the Omicron variant threatens to derail markets (see CD&R’s recently postponed fundraising effort for its Morrison’s takeover), a look at pandemic-era dealmaking seems a timely place to draw inferences for the near future’s Covid-driven uncertainty. Is the current M&A boom Omicron proof? A recent study shows that one form of dealmaking, the take-private, could indeed be immune.

One inference from CD&R’s debt financing decision could be that larger buyouts will cool in the new year as fewer buyers have the stomach to endure market volatility. Here, Houlihan Lokey’s fall Going Private Transaction Study has a couple of interesting takeaways. For starters, auctions for public companies taken private between 2019 and 2020 tended to yield comparable deal multiples regardless of the size of the bidder pool. Sellers who invited five to 15 potential bidders notched a median deal value worth 18.6 times earnings before interest in taxes, while peers who sent 15-plus invitations landed a median value at 18.9 times that metric. To the extent that period is comparable to the present, a decline in the number of potential bidders in the market might not correlate to lower deal values.

That could be down to bidder exclusivity, which seems to be linked with slightly higher deal multiples. Only 31 percent of deals covered in Houlihan’s study had an exclusive bidder, but the bids that granted buyers that status seem to have been tabled at a higher level: sale processes with an exclusivity period had a median acquisition premium of 33 percent a month after announcement, versus 29.3 percent without.

Bids that clear the market and an eager bidder pool could offset a shake-out of tepid buyers should market volatility continue.