PwC predicts healthy M&A activity in Saudi Arabia this year
A PwC report named ‘Saudi M&A landscape: Reflecting on 2016 and why 2017 will be better’, shows that M&A deal volumes are set to recover in 2017 after two challenging years. Deals have been executed and momentum is building for a stronger 2017.
Commenting on the report, Andrew Nichol, Saudi Corporate Finance Leader at PwC Middle East said:
“A recovery in investor and consumer confidence in 2017 is set to breathe life back into the KSA M&A market. We have seen a much improved start to the year with a real focus on deals in consumer-led sectors - capitalising on KSA’s favourable demographics and long-term positive economic growth outlook. The Kingdom remains a key market that regional investors need exposure to and international investors have identified as having real potential for meaningful growth opportunities. We expect ongoing deal activity on the back of recent government reform and diversification efforts and, for at least the short term, as a result of a more attractive valuation environment.”
According to the report, consumer-led sectors (consumer, retail and leisure, healthcare and pharma, TMT and education) dominated the M&A transactions market constituting 55 percent and 48 percent of 2015 and 2016 activity respectively, up from 25 percent in 2014.
Deal volumes increased overall in 2016. The report found that 62 percent of Saudi investors are acquiring international targets, with top investment destinations being the UAE, Kuwait, Germany and South Korea. Deals closed outside the GCC were focused on industrial investments.
PwC are a network of firms in 157 countries with more than 223,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax services.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”