The EY Global Corporate Divestment Study 2018: a spotlight on Southeast Asia
Intentions to divest in Southeast Asia are at record levels, driven by ongoing pressure to evolve existing business models amid rapidly advancing technology. These are the findings of the EY Global Corporate Divestment Study 2018, an annual survey of 900+ corporate executives worldwide with 290 in Asia-Pacific and over 70 in Southeast Asia, conducted between October and December 2017.
The number of respondents planning to complete a divestment in the next two years has more than doubled from last year in Southeast Asia (26% to 88%).
The fundamental divestment driver, cited by 81% of Southeast Asian companies, continues to be a business unit’s relative weak competitive position in its marketplace. More than two-thirds (68%) of respondents said the changing technological landscape is directly influencing their divestment plans, with those looking to divest to fund new technology driven by the need to improve operating efficiency (79%) and address changing customer needs (87%).
The use of analytics in the divestment processes is strongly on the rise. Seventy percent of the Southeast Asia respondents have used advanced analytics to understand the true value of a non-core asset in their last divestment. Companies that consistently apply data-driven analytics to decision-making are 33% more likely to exceed price expectations in their divestments.
88% of Southeast Asian companies plan to divest in the next two years.
More than ever, divestments are at the core of companies’ growth and transformation strategies. Companies face intense pressure to compete and keep peace with fast-moving technology change. The key divestment driver continues to be a business unit’s relative weakness in competitive position in its marketplace – cited by 81% of Southeast Asian companies in the latest findings.
Changes to the technology landscape are directly influencing Southeast Asian companies’ divestment plans. Those companies divesting to fund technological change are primarily looking to address changing customers’ needs (87%) and to improve operating efficiency (79%).
More than two-third (68%) of respondents said their most recent divestment had been opportunistic, highlighting the importance of understanding the value of your portfolio when responding to unplanned approaches.
80% of Southeast Asian companies will use more predictive analytics to make portfolio decisions in the next two years.
Applying data-driven analytics to portfolio reviews is considered a big challenge for Southeast Asian companies. Just over half of Southeast Asian companies (55%) assess their portfolios once a year to determine business units or brands for growth or divestment, with 41% conducting portfolio reviews at least every 6 months. With regular assessments now the norm, the future of portfolio reviews is a real-time process that captures the exponentially increasing amount of internal and external data available to companies and their competitors.
The use of analytics in the divestment processes is strongly on the rise. Seventy percent of Southeast Asia respondents have used advanced analytics to understand the true value a non-core asset in their last divestment. Companies that consistently apply data-driven analytics to decision-making are 33% more likely to exceed price expectations in their divestments.
Strategy teams are making greater use of applied, or predictive, analytics capabilities in their portfolio reviews with 64% expecting to make more use of this approach over the next two years.
57% of Southeast Asian executives say lack of preparation in dealing with tax risk caused value erosion in their last divestment.
Many companies miss out on opportunities to improve value in their divestment process. Besides lack of preparation in dealing with tax risk, other value erosion factors include:
- Lack of fully developed diligence materials (68%)
- Insufficient focus and competing priorities (62%)
- Not presenting the business on a stand-alone basis, which scared off buyers or prompted lower bids (28%)
Analytics can help companies create value pre-sale. Those sellers that leveraged analytics in their pre-sale preparation were more likely to achieve a sale price above expectations. At the same time, it allows buyers to identify growth opportunities that support higher valuations – 73% report that they had given buyers access to data so they could run their own advanced analytics.
The importance of proper preparation is clearly evidenced: 77% say that value was prioritized over speed in their most recent divestment.
27% of Southeast Asian companies say they held onto assets too long.
Companies globally that conduct annual portfolio reviews are twice as likely to exceed performance expectations for divesting “at the right time”. Southeast Asian companies are assessing their portfolios either annually (55%) or at least twice a year (41%) to determine the business units or brands to grow or divest. Yet, despite this attention, 47% of respondents say they still held onto assets too long.
27% of executives from Southeast Asia indicated that over the last 12 months highlighting tax upsides to purchasers better enabled them to drive value.
The vast majority (90%) of Southeast Asian companies say tax policy changes are a geopolitical driver in their plans to divest. However, more than half (57%) report that lack of preparation in dealing with tax risk caused value erosion in their last divestment.
Companies in the region have important opportunities to present both tax challenges and upsides – early, and in detail – to make buyers more enthusiastic about the potential of the purchase.
Sellers need to understand how the tax operating model and effective tax rate associated with the business’s supply-chain structure will affect a buyer’s effective rate and cash flow post-transaction, both on income taxes and indirect taxes.
About the study
The EY Global Corporate Divestment Study focuses on how companies should approach portfolio strategy, improve divestment execution and future-proof their remaining business amid rapid technological change.
The 2018 study results are based on more than 900 interviews with senior corporate executives, including over 70 from Southeast Asia. The survey was conducted between October and December 2017 by FT Remark, the research and publishing arm of the Financial Times Group.