Hurricane Irma did not impact the territory’s ability to act as a jurisdiction for offshore mergers and acquisitions, according to a report from the international law firm Appleby.
Virgin Islands-incorporated companies were the target of 505 transactions in 2017, the third-highest deal volume of the offshore jurisdictions tabulated in Appleby’s report.
“The BVI has shrugged off the considerable disruption caused by Hurricane Irma, with professional services firms able to continue providing key services to clients throughout, and reported activity levels are on a par with the previous year,” the report reads.
The Cayman Islands lead the pack with 839 deals last year, followed by Hong Kong with 592.
Overall, the offshore sector had a productive year with regards to mergers and acquisitions, with outbound and inbound deal volume exceeding the previous year, explained Cameron Adderly, Appleby’s global head of corporate.
Nearly 2,800 deals targeting offshore companies have been announced so far — a similar M&A volume to Spain and India — worth a total of about $227 billion, $8 billion more than in 2016, according to the report.
“In the face of the substantial global geopolitical uncertainly which has overshadowed 2017, the offshore region’s positive performance is all the more remarkable,” the report reads.
Still, 2017 was a slower year than 2015, when offshore registered more than 2,900 inbound deals worth $421 billion.
China was the primary acquirer of offshore targets, in addition to the United Kingdom, Taiwan and the United States, according to Appleby.
The VI’s largest deal in 2017 was when a consortium of businesses used a VI “special purpose vehicle” to purchase Hong Kong’s fifth tallest skyscraper for $5.15 billion, a record-setting price for Hong Kong office towers. It was the third largest offshore deal of the year, behind $5.5 billion and $6.8 billion deals that both happened in Cayman.
Overall, there were 41 offshore deals in 2017 that were worth more than $1 billion, according to the report.
Initial public offerings
After numerous offshore-incorporated companies delayed their initial public offerings due to financial market volatility in 2016, 2017 saw a skyrocketing in IPO announcements, according to Appleby.
“A typical year sees about 190 offshore IPOs being announced, and there were well over 300 reported in 2017, making it by far the busiest on record,” the report reads.
There were also more than 3300 outbound deals from the offshore region that targeted companies in more than 90 countries around the world, for a combined value of $347 billion.
“The offshore region works as a place for transactions to smoothly occur and consequently sees a lot of activity as the base for an acquisition to be made from,” the report stated. “A multinational embarking on a complex cross-border deal might typically use an offshore centre as a ‘neutral’ venue.”
Until 2014, the levels of offshore inbound and outbound deal activity remained similar, according to Appleby. Since then, however, offshore companies on the outbound, acquire-side have been more active.