Canada: Revue de fin d'année 2017 et tendances à surveiller en 2018

BLG a encore une fois connu une année très chargée au chapitre des fusions et acquisitions. Nous avons en effet agi à titre de conseiller dans plus de 100 opérations dont la valeur déclarée s'est chiffrée globalement à plus de 70 G$ CA. BLG est fier d'avoir pu prêter main-forte à ses clients dans plusieurs opérations parmi les plus importantes et les plus intéressantes de 2017, dont les suivantes :

  • Bedrock Industries, relativement à l'acquisition de Stelco Inc. qu'elle a faite pour 500 M$ CA et à la restructuration connexe en vertu de la LACC.
  • CanniMed Therapeutics, dans le cadre de la lutte ininterrompue entourant la prise de son contrôle par Aurora Cannabis et notamment lors des audiences devant les commissions des valeurs mobilières de l'Ontario et de la Saskatchewan.
  • Cabela's Inc., relativement aux aspects canadiens de sa fusion avec Bass Pro Shops au coût de 4,5 G$ US en vue de devenir la société de plein-air et de conservation de premier plan la plus importante en Amérique du Nord.
  • Enersource Corporation, dans le cadre de sa fusion avec Horizon Utilities Corporation et PowerStream Inc., et de l'acquisition de Hydro One Brampton Networks Inc. par l'entité issue de la fusion en vue de constituer Alectra, un distributeur d'électricité consolidé dont la valeur dépasse les 3 G$ CA. Il s'agit du plus important regroupement d'entreprises jamais réalisé dans le secteur de l'électricité de l'Ontario.
  • HollyFrontier Corp., relativement à l'acquisition de Petro-Canada Lubrifiants Inc., propriété de Suncor, pour 1,125 G$ CA.
  • Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Canada Co. et Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company, relativement aux aspects canadiens de la scission partielle et de la fusion subséquente de son entreprise de conception de logiciels avec Micro Focus International plc, au coût de 8,3 G$ US.
  • Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Canada Co. et Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company, relativement aux aspects canadiens de la scission partielle et de la fusion subséquente de ses activités de service à l'entreprise avec Computer Sciences Corporation, au coût de 8,5 G$ US.
  • Delbrooke Capital, dans le cadre de l'élection de sa liste de candidats dissidents à des postes d'administrateur au conseil de Rapier Gold Inc., y compris la nomination d'un président indépendant ordonnée par la cour.
  • Retirement Concepts, première chaîne de maisons de retraite en importance en Colombie-Britannique, dans le cadre de la vente de 23 de ses propriétés à l'Anbang Insurance Group de la Chine pour un montant non divulgué.
  • VCA, Inc., relativement aux aspects canadiens de son acquisition par Mars, Inc. au coût de 9,1 G$ US. Il s'agissait de l'une des 10 plus importantes opérations américaines annoncées en 2017 selon Thomson Reuters.

Tendances à surveiller en 2018

D'après notre examen des tendances qui se dégagent des transactions réalisées en 2017 et ce que nous avons observé depuis le début de 2018, les éléments suivants devraient influer sur les fusions et acquisitions cette année :

  • Évaluations – Les taux d'intérêt sont bas depuis passablement de temps, comme en font foi entre autres la valeur des actifs et les sommets inégalés sur les marchés boursiers américains. Comme les banques centrales semblent vouloir hausser les taux d'intérêt, on peut s'attendre à plus d'activité du côté des fusions et acquisitions puisque les acheteurs emprunteront avant les hausses, et à des négociations plus ardues du fait que les vendeurs chercheront à obtenir des prix record. Il y a donc tout lieu de croire que la tendance en faveur des mégatransactions au prix fort se maintiendra.
  • Activisme des actionnaires – La tendance des actionnaires à revendiquer proactivement des changements ne semble pas vouloir faiblir en 2018. Même la lutte pour le contrôle de CanniMed (dans le cadre de laquelle BLG agit pour le compte de la cible) découle, en partie, de la volonté des actionnaires de signer des ententes de blocage fermes.
  • Sociétés de technologie – En 2017, la technologie s'est révélée comme un important moteur de fusion et acquisition. L'achat de Whole Foods par Amazon est un exemple de la façon dont les sociétés à vocation technologique peuvent changer la dynamique d'un secteur par des fusions et acquisitions. Le désir de ne pas être laissé pour compte amènera certaines sociétés à acquérir des entreprises pour leur technologie ou leur talent et d'autres à devenir la cible de géants axés sur les technologies.
  • Politique – Les incertitudes sur le front politique n'ont pas empêché les marchés boursiers de monter en puissance. Toutefois, certaines d'entre elles commencent à retenir l'attention. Aux États-Unis, par exemple, des lois fiscales ont été adoptées et l'on évalue actuellement leurs effets sur les fusions et acquisitions, tant pour les acheteurs que pour les sociétés cibles. Dans le cas du Canada, le sort de l'ALENA reste nébuleux. Mais le risque que les États-Unis y mettent un terme semble maintenant assurément plus grand qu'il y a un an, d'où la difficulté accrue pour ce qui est de quantifier les risques liés aux fusions et acquisitions. De nombreux autres événements politiques pourraient également jouer sur ces opérations de façon générale ou dans certains secteurs, à savoir la légalisation du cannabis au Canada et sa réglementation contradictoire aux États-Unis, les élections en Ontario et chez nos voisins américains, l'évolution du Brexit ainsi que les tensions géopolitiques.

Fusions et acquisitions : assises de BLG

L'année 2017 a également été marquée par le lancement de la série d'articles Fusions et acquisitions : assises de BLG, qui explique aux clients le b-a ba des fusions et acquisitions. Les six volets maintenant offerts en ligne précisent les principaux éléments d'une opération de fusion et acquisition, du début jusqu'à la fin, et d'autres sont à venir en 2018. Les volets publiés à ce jour sont les suivants :

  • Introduction à une opération de fusion et acquisition
  • Ententes de confidentialité et lettres d'intention
  • Obligations du conseil ou du comité spécial
  • Structures fondamentales des opérations
  • Communication publique de l'information
  • Négocier les déclarations et garanties ainsi que les clauses relatives aux changements ou effets défavorables importants

Pour en savoir davantage sur l'équipe Fusions et acquisitions de BLG et pour accéder à Fusions et acquisitions : assises de BLG et à d'autres publications en ligne, rendez-vous au blg.com/fa.

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