Expectations for M&A in the consumer goods and retail sector remained high in February, despite the debate over the proposed border adjustment tax, or BAT, according to Mergers & Acquisitions’ Mid-Market Pulse (MMP).
Survey participants gave the sector a score of 74.0 for the three-month outlook and 69.2 for the 12-month outlook, about the same results gathered before the holiday shopping season. The industry’s scores were near those received for overall M&A, with the three-month outlook about 2 points higher, and the 12-month outlook about 1 point lower.
One area of uncertainty in the consumer goods and retail sector surrounds the BAT proposed by the Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives. A BAT would provide tax breaks to American companies that ship products to other countries, while removing tax breaks from American companies that import goods from other countries. The strategy is intended to increase demand for goods manufactured in the U.S.
Retailers, however, argue that a BAT would drive up prices for everyday necessities, including food, gas, clothing and prescription medicines. The National Retail Federation has launched an ad campaign against the tax. “American consumers are being asked to foot the bill for a ne $1 trillion tax giveaway for multinational companies, and this campaign will make sure those paying for it know it,” says David French, the trade group’s senior vice president for government relations. Some dealmakers sounded a note of caution.
A “trade war” would “affect overall dealflow negatively,” as one survey participant put it. On balance, though, most respondents predicted that Republican-led policies will have a positive impact on M&A in many industries, including consumer goods and retail.
The MMP is a forward-looking sentiment indicator, published in partnership with CT, a provider of business compliance and deal suppor services.