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Getting The Deal Through

Global overview

Alan M Klein

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP

Thursday 13 June 2019

If M&A activity in 2017 was a complicated story, 2018 was not much simpler. Globally, activity levels overall continued to be strong, remaining comparable to, or improving on, healthy 2017 levels in many respects. While major regions such as Europe and the US saw continued growth over 2017 volumes, certain other regions such as Latin America registered declines in activity. The total value of announced deals last year was US$3.9 trillion according to Bloomberg, representing a 15.9 per cent increase from the previous year. Despite a substantially increased total value, however, 2018 saw a decrease of approximately 8.5 per cent in the number of deals as compared to 2017. Notably, 2018 marked the fifth 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 midterm congressional elections in the US, continued uncertainty with respect to Brexit and several presidential elections in Latin America. Global M&A activity in the first half of 2018 sustained the momentum imparted from the fourth quarter of 2017 but began to slow during the second half of 2018, decreasing markedly during the fourth quarter when it declined by 5 per cent against the previous quarter and registered the slowest period since the second quarter of 2017. Each of the five largest deals in 2018 were announced in the first half of the year.

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