EOFY Reflection: Opportunities Ahead

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A very strong year for the Western Australian economy has meant that the EOFY has rolled around quickly for many of us.  Grondal Bruining’s corporate practice (and the firm more broadly) certainly experienced continued strong workflow off the back of that economic strength.  While 12 months ago I put the confidence levels down to a post COVID rebound, I think in the past 12 months’ economic performance has been driven by the strength in prices across all commodities (which drives confidence and therefore investment, expansion, etc.), and to a lesser extent the associated growth and prominence of renewables (which WA is particularly well placed to take advantage of).  Additionally, having some clear air after a number of challenging years has led a number of enterprises to reassess how they are placed and therefore look to undertake restructures, capital investment or a refinancing so they are best positioned for the future.

 By way of example, Grondal Bruining’s corporate team saw the following mix of work over the past 12 months:

  • In excess of 10 M&A deals, although we did see a couple not proceed due to changes in external circumstances.  Most of this was local expansion, but we did see a few deals where international investors are entering or expanding in the Australian market
  • 5 transactions in the renewables space, 4 of which were M&A transactions
  • Half a dozen capital investment transactions, be they traditional capital raises, refinancings or investment into new enterprises (with another in the pipeline)
  • A number of capital restructures
  • Continued activity in the traditional mining, mining services and health sectors, with somewhat of a focus on tech in the mining services space.

The biggest takeaway for me from the past 12 months is the increase in renewables related transactions, which I expect is just the beginning of a sustained run.  Given the momentum of the energy transition, I’m certainly optimistic about continued and increasing opportunities in this space for transactional work going forward.

Nevertheless, the coming year is far more uncertain with inflation in Australia and other key international economies breaking out, mainly due to supply challenges, as well as the skills shortage and the concern about the Ukraine conflict and its potential consequences.  The break out in inflation around the world has been exacerbated by the fact that those with their hands on the economic levers have been to slow to recognise the “permanence” of the inflationary factors.  They are now playing catch-up by way of substantial interest rate rises with a view to tightening demand to match the supply side and therefore curb inflation.  It seems to be generally accepted that in Australia this will require the recent interest rate rises in Australia to be matched or exceeded in the coming 6-12 months – which the RBA has confirmed with another 50 basis points increase! 

What this will mean for the Australian economy is unknown.  But there seems to be a general view that we are more likely to have a comparatively “soft” landing than that which other countries might experience.  As for what this means for the WA economy specifically, frankly I don’t know.  But I think undoubtedly things will not be as strong as they have been for the past 18 months.  If tightened monetary policy constrains demand as intended, then it can be expected that commodity prices will fall.  But if the Australian economy remains comparatively strong by world standards, and commodities prices can nevertheless hold up relatively well, then WA may come through this phase without too much pain.

Of course changing circumstances also create opportunities, including that:

  • there may be a strengthening gold price and resultant increased activity in that sector as a result of the broader economic concerns
  • the changed circumstances might drive further restructuring and financing opportunities or requirements
  • WA is well placed to take advantage of the supply constraints in the agri sector arising out of the Ukraine conflict
  • the long term necessity for increased renewables investment is likely to continue to drive activity in that space.

Hopefully for all of us the unique factors that drive the WA economy mean that while things might slow down for, we will still have more than enough to do (if we can just find some people to help us do it!!).   And if it does quieten down, as we can now travel again it presents an opportunity to catch up with family and friends interstate, or maybe even take a well earned overseas break – I’m always the optimist….

Gary Thomas​​


Grondal Bruining

Level 5 | 22 Delhi Street | West Perth | WA 6005

Phone: +61 8 6500 4375

Mobile: +61 414 858 584

Email:  gary.thomas@grondalbruining.com.au

The opinions in this article are expressed by the author, Gary Thomas.


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