Survey: Energy execs cautious about acquisitions

Energy executives expect to pull back on deal activity over the next year, after a recent busy period of shale-driven mergers and acquisition, according to a survey by accounting firm Ernst & Young.

Among the 141 oil and gas executives surveyed in April, 31 percent said they planned to pursue an acquisition during the next 12 months, down from 48 percent just five months earlier.

“While oil and gas executives are in a more confident frame of mind, they are still applying caution to M&A,” said Andy Brogan, Global Transactions Advisory Services Leader for Oil & Gas at Ernst & Young. “Economic outlooks remain uncertain and geopolitical instability continues to be a concern.”

Nearly half of responding executives said they plan to sell off assets, more than doubling from 20 percent in April 2011.

But executives are generally optimistic about the future of their companies and the economy. More than 90 percent expect their payroll to grow or remain steady over the next year and more than half believe the global economy is getting better.

Confidence in the credit market also is quickly improving. Among respondents, 54 percent believe credit availability is getting better, compared to 31 percent in October.