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Swiss SMEs Set Foreign Acquisition Record

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 16 February 2024

Amidst a global downturn in M&A, Swiss SMEs buck the trend, setting a new record in acquiring foreign companies, highlighting their resilience and strategic growth.

Swiss SMEs Set Foreign Acquisition Record

The global economic strains of the past year did not deter Swiss SMEs from expanding their international footprint, achieving a record number of acquisitions abroad despite a general decline in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) worldwide. According to Deloitte’s recent study, global company takeovers plummeted to levels last seen in 2005, with Swiss SMEs experiencing a 13% drop in domestic mergers and acquisitions.

However, the narrative changed positively when it came to outbound activities. As buyers, Swiss SMEs increased their international acquisitions by 1.3% to 76, setting a new benchmark. This growth is particularly noteworthy against a backdrop of a 13.5% decrease in overall transactions by Swiss SMEs, which totaled 211 in 2023. The decline was more pronounced in inbound transactions, dropping by over a third to 64, the lowest since 2015.

The sectors attracting Swiss SME interest abroad were predominantly industrial and IT, mirroring the preferences of foreign investors in Switzerland. Most of these outbound transactions originated from German-speaking Switzerland, with Zurich-based companies leading the charge. European investors from Germany were the most active in inbound transactions into Switzerland.

Looking ahead, Deloitte anticipates a modest recovery in the M&A landscape in 2024, fueled by potential interest rate cuts by central banks and a backlog of transactions from 2023. This cautious optimism suggests a “subdued” yet positive shift in the market, providing a glimmer of hope for Swiss SMEs in the M&A domain.

The Deloitte study, focusing on mergers and acquisitions involving Swiss SMEs, defines these entities as companies with turnovers exceeding 10 million Swiss francs, fewer than 250 employees, and enterprise values ranging from 5 to 500 million Swiss francs.

©Keystone/SDA

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