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Emerging Europe M&A 2021 Activity Rebounds with Deal Value Soaring

2021 was a year of rebound and recovery for deal-makers in emerging Europe.[1] Findings from the CMS Emerging Europe M&A 2021 report, published today in cooperation with EMIS, show that the region not only recovered from its dip in 2020, with 2021 transaction levels rising to 2,015 deals (up 18.2%), but  saw overall deal value reach its highest level since 2013 – increasing to EUR 94.27bn (up 55.1%).

Horea Popescu, Head of CEE Corporate M&A practice, CMS, comments: “M&A activity in emerging Europe experienced a resurgence in 2021, with buyers and sellers appearing to recover their confidence at the prospect of the pandemic being brought under control.”

Stefan Stoyanov, Head of M&A Database at EMIS, says: “In 2021, we saw deal-makers adapt to the pandemic’s new normal and push on with M&A. The findings in this year’s report demonstrate the return of deal-maker confidence.”

PE activity continued to grow and IPOs took off 

Private equity is now firmly embedded in the deal-making culture of emerging Europe. Building on 2020’s buoyant numbers, private equity activity rose further with deal numbers at an all-time high (399) and values up 18% (EUR 23.75bn).

IPOs also enjoyed a bumper year as the number of listings surged to 116 (up from 26) and values jumped to EUR 13.47bn (up from EUR 4.79bn). These figures reflect the success of regional stock exchanges, such as Warsaw, Bucharest and Istanbul, in attracting new listings, while those in London, Amsterdam and New York continued to appeal to companies seeking international investors.

Leading sectors

Telecoms and IT topped the deal tables once again and accounted for five of the ten biggest deals of the year. Transaction numbers rose to 450 (up from 333) and the sector saw the overall highest deal value at EUR 23.4bn.

Real Estate and Construction was the second busiest sector, experiencing 340 deals (up from 310) and a 3.8% rise in deal value (EUR 9.83bn). Despite experiencing a 19% drop in deal numbers, offices remained the top real-estate sub-sector. Similarly, Warehousing and logistics also maintained its sub-sector ranking, reflecting the ongoing shift to e-commerce. Manufacturing was the third busiest sector with 253 transactions (up from 236) and second by value at EUR 18.26bn. Meanwhile, Mining, Oil and Gas was the third largest sector by value at EUR 10.59bn.

Growing investor interest in climate action helped drive up the overall number of energy and utility deals to 122 (from 73), and the sector accounted for 6% of overall transactions (up from 4.3%). The renewables sub-sector saw particularly impressive growth in both deal activity and value, numbering 81 deals (up from 44) and a fourfold increase in value.


Ukraine was one of three notable M&A hotspots, with deal numbers for Ukraine, Croatia, and Romania all outperforming their numbers prior to the pandemic. The Telecoms & IT sector saw not only the top number of deals in Ukraine but also placed among the top sectors for deal growth and third in terms of deal value. Agriculture & Farming showed the most deal growth in Ukraine and Finance & Insurance the second most growth. Manufacturing was the top sector for deal value in Ukraine, with Mining, including Oil & Gas, showing the second highest deal value for the year.

Foreign and regional investment reaches new heights

The United States was the most active foreign country investor. US deal numbers rose to a decade high of 154 (up from 94) and values more than doubled to reach a record high of EUR 9.17bn.

European investors also demonstrated a keen appetite for deals in emerging Europe and, by deal activity, the top three European investors were the UK (106 deals), Germany (81 deals) and France (54 deals). These same three countries also topped the charts for European investor deal value; Germany led the pack (EUR 3.13bn), with the UK (EUR 2.08bn) and France (EUR 1.91bn) following in second and third place respectively. The UAE moved up the foreign investor ranking to secure tenth position for its deal numbers, the highest outside the US and Europe.

Cross-border M&A remained buoyant, with deal numbers up 28.9% (985 deals) and values up 59.8% (EUR 56bn). Meanwhile, domestic deal values reached EUR 38.3bn (up 48.1%), with deal numbers up 9.5% (1,030).

Outlook for 2022

Radivoje Petrikić, CEE Corporate Practice, CMS, comments: “M&A professionals have shown they are capable of adapting to whatever challenges 2022 might throw at them. Although uncertainty about the impact of new variants and the prospect of economic fallout from higher inflation has led to a more cautious end to the year, our findings show that deal-maker confidence has largely been restored. In 2021, the main drivers of deals were long-term underlying trends, such as digitalisation, and with the pace of change and shift to digital continuing to accelerate, the fundamentals for an active dealmaking market remain firmly in place.”

The CMS Emerging Europe M&A 2021 report can be found here: https://cms.law/en/int/publication/emerging-europe-m-a-report-2021-2022

For further information, please contact:

Darina Gordienko

E: darina.gordienko@cms-cmno.com

Notes to editors:

About the report

The “Emerging Europe M&A Report 2021” shows trends in 15 emerging CEE/SEE countries based on EMIS M&A data for 2012-2021, combined with commentary, insights and forecasts for 2022 provided by CMS. The full report can be viewed here: https://cms.law/en/int/publication/emerging-europe-m-a-report-2021-2022

About CMS
Founded in 1999, CMS is an integrated, multi-jurisdictional organisation of law firms that offers full-service legal and tax advice. With 80 offices in over 40 countries across the world and more than 5,000 lawyers, CMS has long-standing expertise both in advising in its local jurisdictions and across borders. From major multinationals and mid-caps to enterprising start-ups, CMS provides the technical rigour, strategic excellence and long-term partnership to keep each client ahead in its chosen markets.

The CMS member firms provide a wide range of expertise across 19 practice areas and sectors, including Corporate / M&A, Energy & Climate Change, Funds, Life Sciences & Healthcare, TMC, Tax, Banking & Finance, Commercial, Antitrust, Competition & Trade, Dispute Resolution, Employment & Pensions, Intellectual Property and Real Estate.

For more information, please visit cms.law

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[1]   Emerging Europe includes Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, and Ukraine.

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