Canada goes shopping

In the 10 years from 2004 to 2013, Canadian firms scooped up $575 billion worth of companies worldwide, while foreigners bought $428 billion worth of Canadian assets.

Foreign companies are slowly but surely buying out Canada, right? Wrong. Canadian companies are net buyers of foreign assets, and by a large margin, according to a study by M&A International.

In the 10 years from 2004 to 2013, Canadian firms scooped up $575 billion worth of companies worldwide, while foreigners bought $428 billion worth of Canadian assets. Canadian players are on the positive side by a wide margin of $147 billion. A total of 4,787 foreign-owned businesses were acquired by Canadians, while only 3,544 Canadian companies were purchased by foreigners.

We must be careful with these numbers, cautions Howard Johnson, president of M&A International and managing director of Veracap, a Canadian member of the M&A network. "Deal prices are disclosed in only in a little more than 50% of transactions, and numbers can be skewed by only one or two big deals. But the positive balance on the side of Canada is so large that it leads us to believe that it holds for the totality of transactions."

For virtually every one of the past 10 years, Canada's total of acquisitions has been positive by a margin of approximately 50 transactions per year from 2004 to 2008, and 200 from 2009 to 2013.

Canada's positive margin holds for transactions in all regions, even those involving the US. Canadians bought 2,856 firms south of the border for a total of $335 billion twice the US total of $171 billion paid in the purchase of 2,519 Canadian firms.

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