Enter Robin Rankin, co-head of M&A at Credit Suisse.
Business Insider sat down with her at the Milken Global Conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday, and instead of going through a laundry list of questions, we asked her to tell us what really matters — what is the most important question facing the M&A market?
Here you go, the question now is:
When is it going to be the right time to reenter emerging markets and Europe?
You’ll recall the first quarter of this year, when markets, led by China, started to crash. Commodities crashed too, taking emerging markets down with them. Everyone thought it was the end of days — that’s the kind of cataclysmic movement that changes dealmaking.
“It’s not as if [companies] number three and four [in a sector] are not going to get together because of Brexit or the [US presidential] election,” Rankin told Business Insider.
It’s the kind of portfolio pounding market action we saw in the first quarter that compels people like Rankin to tell their clients to hold on for a moment and wait for things to calm down,
That is despite the fact that corporate balance sheets are still fat, business prospects haven’t changed much, and they have done an incredible amount of work to prepare for their big deal day.
The new hotness is the old hotness
See, what really runs the money flow show is less investor uncertainty, and more a country’s or sector’s growth prospects.
That’s why since the volatility of Q1 has subsided, we’ve been seeing dealmaking increase steadily month after month. We’re not seeing the megadeals of last year, but we’re seeing $1 billion to $10 billion deals that Rankin says are much more “sustainable.”
And we’ve seen funds flowing out of China — the source of Q1’s volatility — and into the United States. Chinese companies have been bidding for US assets at the fastest pace on record.
“What’s driving the China outbound [activity] is a desire for diversification,” she explained.
That’s why Rankin and her team have changed what they’re doing. Instead of doing presentations about opportunities in the so-called BRIC countries (like Brazil, which is having an awful time of 2016) they were telling would be buyers about what was going on the the US
“If you’re not meaningful in The States you’re missing an extraordinarily large customer base, and the one thing we don’t know is when European activity is going to pick up,” she said.
Now, none of this means that having the Fed raise rates, having a Brexit decision or having the US presidential election behind us won’t give corporations a nudge, it probably will.
But the questions we’re dealing with here are much bigger, ultimately, so for now the market will have to work with smaller deals.
“I think we have to be optimists in our business,” said Rankin. “I think people would do well if there was a more exciting growth profile. Right now it’s too slow growth…what’s the next big thing? It’s not obvious.”