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Getting The Deal Through

Global overview

Alan M Klein

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP

Wednesday 08 August 2018

M&A activity in 2017 was a complicated story. Globally, activity levels overall remained prosperous, on a par with healthy 2016 levels. However, certain regions such as Europe saw significant growth, while the US was at best stagnant. The total value of announced deals last year was US$3.4 trillion according to Bloomberg, representing a 5.6 per cent decrease from the previous year. Despite a slightly lowered total value, however, 2017 saw a 3 per cent increase in the number of deals as compared to 2016. With 49,448 deals announced globally, 2017 was the strongest year by number of deals since 1980. Notably, 2017 marked the fourth consecutive year in which M&A activity has broken US$3 trillion. This high level of M&A activity was sustained despite increased global geopolitical uncertainty, including the recent tax legislation by the US Congress, heightened regulatory scrutiny in China and market risks associated with Brexit and several presidential elections in Europe. Global M&A activity thus started slow and steady in 2017, but accelerated during the fourth quarter of 2017, when its total value increased by 33 per cent compared to the third quarter and totalled US$1.1 trillion. The fourth quarter of 2017 marked the third consecutive fourth quarter to surpass US$1 trillion in announced deals, and four of the five largest deals in 2017 were announced in the fourth quarter.

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