The volume of merger and acquisition (M&A) deals in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region grew by 13% in 2022, driven mainly by the UAE, according to EY MENA M&A Insights 2022 report.

The “unprecedented” 754 deals were due to higher investor confidence, which resulted from improving market conditions, elevated oil prices, business-friendly reforms and easing government travel restrictions, the report said.

“The macro-economic challenges in the US and Europe have triggered a retreat of capital to the MENA region with the GREs (government-related entities) and regional strategics leading the pack,” said Anil Menon, EY MENA Head of M&A and Equity Capital Markets.

“Large cap players are super active and hunting. The unprecedented volume of deal activity in 2022 is a clear reflection of an exceptionally buoyant deal environment, which we expect will continue in 2023.”


Domestic deals represented 51% of the total M&A deal volume at 388 and 34% of the value at $28.4 billion. Outbound deals led in value with $40.1 billion and a total number of 201, while 165 inbound deals amounted to 14 billion in total disclosed value.

The region saw 137 deals involving GREs in 2022, which was 78% higher than in 2021 and the highest number since 2017. GRE-involved deals accounted for 49% of the total disclosed deal value at US$40.3b.

In terms of sectors, technology made up 25% of the total deal volume. In a bid to position itself as a hub for tech start-ups, the MENA region continues to improve ease of doing business while enacting favourable legislation across industries and creating an enabling investment landscape.

The UAE dominated the lists of target countries as well as bidder countries by value last year, followed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in both rankings. Egypt and Oman also made an appearance in the top five MENA target and bidder countries.

The UAE registered the region’s largest M&A with Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec’s acquisition of a 22% stake in each of DP World’s entities, Jebel Ali Free Zone FZE, National Industries Park, and Jebel Ali Port companies, for $5 billion.

Coming second was an outbound deal wherein Emirates Telecommunications Group and Atlas 2022 Holdings acquired a 9.8% stake in Vodaphone Group for $4.4 billion.

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company’s acquisition of 24.9% stake in OMV AG from local SWF Mubadala for $4.1 billion rounded off the top three deals.

Meanwhile, the Saudi Arabian Oil Company’s acquisition of Valvoline’s Global Products business for $2.7 billion was a strategic transaction in the oil and gas sector.

(Reporting by Brinda Darasha; editing by Cleofe Maceda)