Investing in CEE: Inbound M&A report 2023/2024

The CEE region stands resilient in the face of global challenges, with attractive investment opportunities and robust domestic and cross-border dealmaking potential in 2024.

The past year has been tough for dealmakers everywhere, elevated interest rates, enduring inflation and ongoing geopolitical upheaval made for a markedly challenging dealmaking environment in 2023. Unsurprisingly, M&A activity was notably lower in most global regions.

Despite this, our report reveals a picture of robust dealmaking in CEE. While overall volume and aggregate disclosed deal value were down year-on-year, the declines registered in the CEE region in 2023 were less severe than those seen in many
other parts of the world.

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Key findings

  • Globally, deal volume was down 16% year-on-year in 2023, and disclosed value also slid by 16% with all regions registering notable declines.
  • Overall, the CEE region saw 1,097 transactions, amounting to a combined value of €37.3bn.
  • Volume and disclosed value were each down 15% from 2022.
  • Widely-anticipated distressed M&A activity failed to materialise at scale in 2023.
  • Telecom took centre stage in 2023 and accounted for two of CEE’s top-10 transactions.
  • Private equity activity held up well in 2023, despite brisk headwinds. Total disclosed buyout value rose to €5.4bn, an increase of 33% year-on-year, despite the volume of buyouts falling by 11% over the same period.
  • Poland, Austria, Romania, and the Czech Republic stand out as the busiest M&A markets in terms of deal volume in the CEE region in 2023.
  • Once again, the technology sector registered the highest number of inbound deals to the CEE region, with a total of 114 transactions, and was the top sector in terms of cross-border disclosed deal value in 2023, rising sharply by 36% year-on-year to €4.5bn.

Key findings for Slovakia

  • Slovakia recorded 31 transaction in 2023, two more than in 2022.
  • The total disclosed deal value of was €183 million.
  • The largest transaction of the year was the €53 million acquisition.
  • Tech and industrials are both strong performers in Slovakia.
  • Healthcare and pharmaceuticals was among the sectors that saw an increase in disclosed deal value across the region in 2023.

Private equity firms in particular have healthcare assets firmly in their sights. “PE buyers in Slovakia are looking at a wide range of healthcare assets, from hospitals to private clinics,” confirms Igor Mišík, Senior Manager at Mazars in Slovakia. “In addition, we are seeing more and more interest in specific niches, such as medical imaging and radiology. All of this is being driven by demographic shifts and shortcomings in state healthcare provision. Big changes are needed – and PE investors know it.”

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Outlook for the coming months

Looking ahead, geopolitical uncertainties seem to bring an element of unpredictability to 2024. Despite this, the macroeconomic outlook is considerably brighter than it was 12 months ago. Inflation is falling sharply in some regions, and particularly among CEE countries. Meanwhile, rate cuts are on the cards.