Companies shopping for businesses in Europe are hot on the Nordics, cool on their southern neighbors.
Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland have seen about $288 billion in deals since the financial meltdown began in 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That puts the region, with a population of about 26 million, well ahead of countries such as Spain, which has about 47 million people, and Italy, with about 61 million.
“If I’m selling a business with lots of exposure to France, the interest goes down fast,” said Kristian Terling, who handles the Nordic business for Los Angeles-based investment bank Houlihan Lokey. “I say ‘Sweden,’ the mood softens.”
Sweden’s economy has grown by more than 10 percent since 2009, according to government records. While Sweden’s growth for 2012 is projected to have slowed to 0.9 percent, it’s still expected to beat the euro region, which is contracting. All of the Nordic countries boast triple-A credit ratings and the region overall is projected to expand by 2.1 percent this year.
“The countries are very well established with good growth records, they speak English, and they have stable politics,” says Pip McCrostie, global vice chair of transaction advisory services at Ernst & Young, based in London. “Money always flows to the safe haven when it’s looking to avoid risk.”
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