January 2015 Distribution M&A Roundup: Calm Before the Storm?

Consolidation forecast still upbeat despite steady but not spectacular month to open 2015.

The value of merger-and-acquisition transactions worldwide jumped 28 percent in January compared with the same month a year ago, making it the busiest January in four years, according to Thompson Reuters.

But most of the action was in Asia, with deals targeting U.S. companies declining 13 percent, a trend reflected in fewer notable distribution purchases during the month.

Electrical distribution made some of the biggest noise in January, with France-based Sonepar and one of its subsidiaries pulling off a trio of acquisitions.

Sonepar bought a Belgian distributor and an Italian distributor, and Sonepar USA subsidiary OneSource Distributors bought two related Hawaiian companies, RASKO Supply and RASCO Supply.

In other electrical distribution M&A activity, Cedar Rapids, IA-based Van Meter said it will acquire Miller Electric Supplyto expand its presence in Iowa to 14 locations.

Big news came out of the fasteners sector, which saw Anixter International deciding to sell its fasteners division, according to the Financial Times. The division is expected to sell for more than $500 million, according to FT. Anixter had sales of $6.2 billion in 2013 with the fasteners division – reported as OEM supply – accounting for about 15 percent of total sales.

Also in fasteners, the Bossard Group said it would acquire the fastening solutions division of Forind Avio Elettronica S.p.a.for undisclosed terms.

Despite a relatively slow start to 2015 in distribution, the year promises to contribute greatly to the industry's consolidation story, with M&A expected to pick up considerably, according to David J. Manthey, senior research analyst, industrial distribution services, Robert W. Baird & Co.

During the recent MDM Webcast, 2015 Distribution Industry Outlook, Manthey said the M&A environment is ripe for numerous and noteworthy deals this year.

"From a private equity standpoint, first of all, there’s about $465 billion of dry powder in global private equity buyout funds right now," he said. "That’s up from about $180 billion 10 years ago, so massive growth there. With the low rates they’re able to really get much more attractive returns with higher degrees of leverage."

Here are other key deals that occurred in January 2015:

Wolseley Weighs Exit for France Building Materials Businesses

Kaman to Acquire G.C. Fabrication

Motion Industries to Acquire Miller Bearings

Bunzl to Acquire Tillman

Arrow Electronics Initiates Offer to Acquire Data Modul

GHX Industrial Acquires Hose & Fittings

ABC Supply Acquires Wameling Drywall

BlackHawk Industrial Acquires Packaging Inc.

Ace Hardware Acquires Jensen Distribution Services

Ryerson Acquires Fay Industries

Tech Air Acquires McGinnis

Nichols Acquires Professional Sanitary Supply

AmerisourceBergen to Acquire MWI Veterinary Supply

Myers Industries to Sell Lawn & Garden Business

MW Industries Acquires Maudlin & Son

L.B. Foster to Acquire Chemtec Energy

Global Industrial to Acquire Plant Equipment Group

Columbus McKinnon Acquires Stahlhammer Bommern

Bosch North America Acquires Climatec

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