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May 29, 2019 | M&A Reports 

Crosbie & Company Canadian Mergers & Acquisitions Report for Q1 2019

M&A Activity Remains Strong but Retreats from Recent Record High 

M&A activity was strong in the first quarter of 2019 with 801 announced transactions valued at $74B.  It is notable that this is the fifth consecutive quarter where transaction activity has exceeded the 800 deal threshold.  While the number of deals is 4% below Q1 2018, this quarter is still the second strongest Q1 in the last seven years and is well above the quarterly averages seen prior to 2018.  However, aggregate deal value spiked 59% in comparison to Q1 2018 due to a larger number of mega-deals, including 4 transactions in excess of $5B. 

“Canadian companies were less acquisitive in Q1 than in each of the last four quarters, both domestically and abroad” said Asim Siddiqui, Director at Crosbie. “This could be a reflection of economic uncertainty prior to the ‘Fed Pause’ late last year.”   

“Following a highly acquisitive 2018, acquisitions by Canadian companies, particularly acquisitions of foreign targets, declined noticeably this quarter,” said Siddiqui.  Of the 801 announced deals, there were 420 domestic acquisitions and 207 cross border acquisitions by Canadian companies, down 3% and 14%, respectively, from the quarterly averages in the prior year.  There were also 132 acquisitions of Canadian companies by foreign buyers, an increase from the quarterly average of 124 such deals in 2018.  
Of particular interest to service providers, there were 552 acquisitions of companies domiciled in Canada, with 38% of these based in Ontario, 26% in B.C. and 15% in Quebec.  These numbers are very close to those of last year.

There were 13 mega-deals announced this quarter with a combined aggregate value of $58.9B, the highest level since Q1 2017. The largest transaction was the $17.4B acquisition of Vancouver based Goldcorp by US based Newmont Mining Corp.  The transaction involves two gold industry leaders and the combined company will hold the world’s largest base of gold reserves and resources.  The Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board was part of two separate consortiums of investors involved in the second and third largest deals, in which two public companies, The Ultimate Software Group and Inmarsat were taken private.  Both mega-deals were cross-border acquisitions, a theme that is consistent with CPPIB’s strategy non-Canadian private investments.

During the first quarter, Canadian mid-market activity remained quite strong and dominated the M&A landscape. The mid-market, which is defined as transactions with enterprise values below $250M, represented 90% of total deal activity and 10% of aggregate value, generally in line with historical norms.

Real Estate was the most active sector for the third consecutive quarter with 120 deals, an increase of 13% relative to the same quarter in the previous year.  The second most active sector this quarter was Information Technology with 98 announced transactions.  Transaction value was highly concentrated in the Precious Metals and Information Technology sectors largely due to the aforementioned Goldcorp and Ultimate Software Group transactions which together accounted for 42% of total deal value for the quarter. 


  • Deal activity declined for the second consecutive quarter but remains quite high
  • Q1 announcements decreased by 4% compared to the same quarter in 2018
  • Fifth consecutive quarter with 800+ announced transactions
  • Total deal value in Q1 was $74.8B, up 62% from the $47.1B of total value in Q1 2018
  • Canada/US cross-border activity represented 68% of total deal activity
    • Canada/US cross-border value was $48.2B, twice the amount in Q1 18


  • 13 mega-deals is consistent with the trend over the last 7 quarters, excluding the multi-year high in Q2 2018
  • Represented $58.9B of total value, more than double the amount in Q1 2018
  • Largest announced transaction was the $17.4B purchase of Goldcorp by Newmont Mining
  • Canadian buyers represented 7 of the 10 largest transactions including 5 cross-border deals, indicating a strong interest by Canadian companies to make large acquisitions abroad

Industry Sector Activity

  • Real Estate remains the most active sector for the third consecutive quarter with 120 transactions, a 13% increase over the same period in 2018
  • Information Technology was also quite active this quarter with 98 transactions and $17.4B of aggregate value, the second greatest amount this quarter following precious metals 
  • Telecommunication Services sector experienced a large increase in aggregate transaction value at $8.3B, due to a mega-deal acquisition by CPPIB
  • Total transaction value was highly concentrated in the IT and Precious Metals sectors, with two transaction comprising 42% of total deal value

Breakdown by Transaction Size

  • 90% of transaction volume in the quarter was from mid-market transactions below $250M (for transactions with disclosed values)
  • Mid-market transactions were valued at $7.1B or approximately 10% of the total M&A value

Domestic Versus Foreign M&A

  • Domestic M&A activity exceeded 500 transactions for the sixth consecutive quarter with 552 transactions, well above the 4-year average of 481
  • Canadian companies acquired 207 foreign targets, the lowest level since Q4 2016
  • The total value of transactions involving foreign buyers of Canadian companies ($24.5B) was the most spent on Canadian targets since Q3 2013, largely due to the $17.4B acquisition of Goldcorp

Cross-Border Deals

  • The historical trend of outbound M&A activity exceeding inbound M&A by a ratio of approximately 2:1 continued this quarter
  • Cross-border deals represented 40% of total activity and 83% of total deal value
  • The United States remains Canada’s most active M&A partner, representing 68% of cross-border activity

Target by Province

  • Ontario remains the most active province this quarter with 207 deals valued at $6.5B
  • British Columbia experienced a large increase in deal value, primarily due to the Goldcorp transaction, the largest acquisition in the province’s history
  • Quebec and Alberta remained active markets for M&A activity with 84 and 71 transactions this quarter respectively

Crosbie & Company Inc.
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