2023 Aerospace and Defense M&A Outlook

As inflation continues to reduce the value of each dollar and fears of a recession loom, many sectors are already seeing retractions in the mergers and acquisitions marker. In aerospace and defense M&A, things are more complicated. A&D is its own unique world, and broader trends don’t always land here the way they do in other industries. For instance, the COVID-19 pandemic was a boon to many industries, but commercial aviation saw stunning losses. Anticipating trends can help players in this sector remain agile. Here are five trends that we predict will affect A&D M&A in the coming year. 

Decreased Access to Capital 

It’s a simple rule, with profound implications: higher interest rates make capital less accessible. Coupled with inflation and a recession, buyers just don’t have as much cash on hand as they did even a year ago.This may slow M&A, mean that buyers are more discerning, and reduce valuations. 

Ongoing Regulatory Challenges

Aerospace and defense face an increasingly tight regulatory climate. DoD has expressed concerns about the potential for monopolies to form as the industry consolidates, and has promised to carefully scrutinize all deals with even theoretical national security implications. This may slow down deals, and even be the death knell for some particularly large deals. 

Mitigating Supply Chain Risks 

Supply chain issues were already becoming a problem at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic, a tight labor market, and international upheaval from the Russian invasion of Ukraine have made things even tighter. Key players may make a shift from global to regional sourcing, especially of parts and raw materials. This may change pricing schemes and budgets, and alter the manufacturing process. Thoughtful A&D companies should create as much visibility into their supply chains as possible, so that they can anticipate and mitigate emerging supply chain risks before they become crises. 

Managing Labor Shortages 

Labor shortages have proven catastrophic for industries across the globe. A&D is no exception, especially because of the ways in which these shortages affect manufacturing. These shortages may increase budgets and erode value. They may mean that everything takes longer. A&D companies should assume that the labor shortage is here to stay, not a temporary disruption. The time to begin developing a long-term strategy for nurturing, recruiting, and retaining top talent is here. For many A&D businesses, automation and artificial intelligence are becoming pillars of the strategy for managing labor shortages. 

What can your business do to be the most attractive place in your industry to work? Do it now. Because a business’s people are key drivers of its value during M&A. 

Adopting Sustainable Practices 

Consumers and governments are increasingly concerned about carbon emissions and reining in unsustainable manufacturing practices. Some contracts may even require sustainability benchmarks. Sustainable aviation fuels are becoming mainstream, and renewable electricity may also offer a viable alternative. To remain competitive, A&D companies must develop sustainability policies that reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and ensure that A&D can continue to thrive into the future.