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Indeed, banks may be reaching a limit on the degree to which senior bankers can close their firm’s profitability gap on a stand-alone basis.
That, in part, is why we believe the industry is about to experience an increase in the sector’s M&A activity, which currently stands near 20-year lows.
Yet banks are already selling off some units to lower pressure on their capital ratios, so sellers late to the game will likely find deal values considerably less attractive.
Ever more demanding customers are forcing banks to invest in costly digital technologies.It’s unlikely that many of the region’s banks can close their profitability gaps on a stand-alone basis, so banks need to reconsider their options for earning their cost of equity and improving shareholder value.One promising way to do so involves a revival of mergers and acquisitions activity throughout the sector.Key success factors include a deal’s commercial viability, the financial impact of executing the deal, and whether the deal will actually deliver the expected value over time.In particular, issues such as the combined entity’s customer base, “fair value” accounting for the banks’ combined assets, tax effects, harmonization of illiquid Level 3 assets and risk-weighted asset models, and impending litigation liabilities may seem like mere technicalities, but they can make or break the viability of any deal.To put it bluntly, European banks aren’t doing very well these days.Business conditions are weak, limiting their ability to boost earnings.M&A in its various forms offers a real opportunity for European banks to increase operational efficiency, improve capital ratios by divesting unprofitable businesses and capital exposures, and grow strategically by gaining market share, increasing competitiveness by acquiring new capabilities and new businesses, and expanding geographically.Indeed, we expect to see a significant increase in M&A activity in the European banking sector.As a result, investors continue to shun the sector in their asset allocations, as they have since the 2008–09 financial crisis.As of the end of 2016, the median bank among the 46 banks included in the Stoxx 600 was trading at a 12 percent discount to its equity book value.