Global M&A Activity Subdued As Slowdown In Dealmaking Spreads To The US Market

Global M&A Activity Subdued As Slowdown In Dealmaking Spreads To The US Market
Global M&A Activity Subdued As Slowdown In Dealmaking Spreads To The US Market

Mergermarket, the provider of M&A data and intelligence, has published its 3Q19 report which revealed that the slowdown in dealmaking spread to the US market in 3Q19, causing global M&A to drop 11.4% year-to-date (YTD) on last year to USD 2.49tn (across 13,304 deals). Activity was particularly subdued in the difficult to interpret third quarter of the year, when USD 622.2bn worth of deals were struck globally, down 21.2% on 3Q18 (USD 789.7bn) and with 1,164 fewer deals than last year.

The US market, which had so far seemed immune to the global downward trend at play since the middle of last year, is starting to be impacted. At USD 262.9bn in 3Q19, US M&A is down 32.1% on 3Q18 (USD 387.1bn). Worth USD 1.25tn YTD, US M&A is still marginally up on the same period last year (USD 1.23tn), just about retaining a 50% share of global M&A activity, down from 52.5% in 1H19. Marred by the trade and tech war between Washington and Beijing and persistent political instability in Hong Kong, YTD M&A activity in Asia is down 26.5% over last year to USD 417.2bn.

Key data points include:

  • Six buyouts above USD 1bn have already been conducted by European sponsors on North American soil this year, five of which in 3Q19.
  • At USD 424.6m YTD, the average size of deal with a disclosed value is up from USD 380.1m in 2018, and the highest on Mergermarket record by some margin.
  • So far this year, 31 megadeals (< USD 10bn) took place, only the second time since 2008 that more than 30 such deals are recorded within the first nine months of the year.
  • Pharma, Medical & Biotech (PMB) sector managed to put three deals in this quarter’s global top 10, including the creation of a mighty generic drugs maker through the combination of US-based Mylan and Pfizer’s Upjohn.

Despite a small recovery over the summer, European M&A remains 29.4% lower compared to the same period last year, as a weakening European economy and geopolitical tensions continue to dampen activity. However, London Stock Exchange’s USD 27bn acquisition of US-based financial data provider Refinitiv, the largest deal globally in 3Q19, exemplifies the strength of European outbound M&A, which at USD 187.1bn is up more than 20% on last year and at its highest YTD level since 2016.

Beranger Guille, Global Editorial Analytics Director at Mergermarket commented: “Whether they are motivated by the desire to get more growth, or a way to secure future survival, deals are getting larger. On the back of the longest equity bull market in history, and amid persistently low interest rates, corporates have ample cash reserves and appealing debt financing options at their disposal to pursue M&A. This context and the growing feeling that it will not last forever are pushing valuations up.”