Disruptive technology has the potential to transform the infrastructure, mining and commodities industries. Whilst some of these sectors have seen less M&A activity driven by disruptive technology, there is appetite amongst key players to invest in, acquire, and partner with businesses that can provide services which include the use of:
- smart contracts to address automation/semi-automation of applications for payment, escrow accounts, bond payments and warranties
- Internet of Things (IoT) technology in smart cities to ensure, for example, a more efficient water supply through the use of smart meters and the improvement of traffic congestion through smart traffic signals and road sensors
- AI to monitor air quality and operate smart street lights, waste collection, grids and utilities
- blockchain, a form of Distributed Ledger Technology, to reduce supply chain risks or facilitate payments
- robotics and AI, for both exploration and mining, enabling the exploitation of bodies or territories previously considered too hazardous such as the seabed or space
- 3D visualisation for scheduling equipment maintenance, geological modelling and planning.
Norton Rose Fulbright advised De Beers, the world’s leading diamond company which is 85% owned by Anglo American, in respect of a ground-breaking blockchain platform, Tracr. Tracr is an end-to-end diamond industry blockchain traceability platform. It will provide a first-of-its-kind digital register for diamonds to ensure authenticity, traceability and accountability across the diamond value chain. The platform is intended to be an industry-wide, open source solution delivering value to all ecosystem participants, including producers, manufacturers, traders, retailers, brands, financiers and consumers. It was recently announced that Alrosa, the Russian diamond mining group, has joined the platform’s pilot programme, alongside other industry leaders from the diamond manufacturing and retail sectors.
Return to M&A outlook 2019