WASHINGTON — Following a record year for mergers and acquisitions in the aerospace and defense industry, activity in the sector is strong, despite a fall from last year’s cloud-nine highs, according to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The value of 2018 industry deals to date is $30.3 billion, nearly half the value at the same time last year, but still 48 percent above the $21.3 billion, 10-year annual deal average, the PwC report said.

Deal volume and average deal size are both down from this time last year, 18 and 41 percent respectively, to 290 deals, averaging $197.1 million. Some of this disparity can be accounted for by the lack of a monster, blockbuster deal like United Technologies Corporation’s acquisition of Rockwell Collins for $30 billion last September.

Unlike last year’s four “Megadeals” ($5 billion-plus), only General Dynamics' acquisition of CSRA qualifies so far in 2018.

Despite the lack of any high-value transactions in the third quarter, one notable move is Boeing’s announced agreement to acquire 80 percent of Embraer’s commercial business for $3.8 billion, the PwC report emphasized.

The report noted that a higher focus on information technology infrastructure, cybersecurity, cloud computing and C4ISR is pushing a number of nontraditional and financial buyers to target diversified IT service organizations.

The report attributes decreased merger and acquisition activity in the sector to “a slowdown in new orders for aerospace [original equipment manufacturers] and the absence of a significant number of large transactions.” This relatively tame level of activity may be expected to increase as industry becomes “driven by an increased focus on emerging technologies, intensified competition and [a] rise in government spending to modernize the IT infrastructure,” said Bob Long, U.S. aerospace and defense deals leader for PwC.

Regional trends remained consistent with previous years’ activity, with North America-based firms remaining the most active acquirer. In the last quarter, companies there contribute 80 percent of deal value and 31 percent of deal volume, the report said. The report also identified the Asia-Pacific region as an important area in future commercial aerospace transactions due to fleet expansion and continued capital inflows to aircraft leasing.

Daniel Cebul is an editorial fellow and general assignments writer for Defense News, C4ISRNET, Fifth Domain and Federal Times.

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