M&A activity in the packaging industry has sharply escalated in the first three quarters of 2021 after delays last year led to a backlog of potential deals. The industry showed resiliency during the COVID-19 pandemic, with accelerating growth and stable cash flows. Valuations for packaging companies have returned to and selectively surpassed pre-COVID levels, creating a fertile deal-making landscape for buyers and sellers in the rest of 2021 and beyond.

Key takeaways:

  • M&A activity in the packaging industry has returned to, and is surpassing, pre-COVID levels over the first three quarters of 2021 and should continue to be an attractive area for both buyers and sellers.
  • The packaging industry showed resiliency in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated existing growth dynamics, particularly as e-commerce volumes skyrocketed.
  • Rise in resin prices has delayed the launch of some deals in the industry, leading to even more pent-up demand for M&A activity as prices stabilize.
  • Sustainability considerations continue to evolve, and companies offering environmentally friendly options should be well positioned to outperform.
  • William Blair has been involved in several recent transactions for packaging companies with specialties in the food and healthcare industries that exemplify the attractiveness of these end-markets.

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