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M&A Insig​hts | Q1 2019

Global M&A outlook: turning point or pause for breath?

Predicting when the global M&A market will end its record-breaking bull run has been a long-standing topic of debate among commentators. The question is whether the latest figures mark a significant turning point or, a temporary pause for breath.

During the first quarter of 2019, deal values and volumes declined across most regions and sectors, with megadeals also down. In volume terms, cross-border deals had their slowest start to the year since 2009.

It is only fair to expect M&A markets to become unsettled in response to the current geo-political turbulence, trade tensions and signs of slowing global growth.

The tougher approach of regulators, particularly heightened pressure from antitrust authorities, is also not helping matters. In our article Antitrust authorities maintain the pressure on dealmakers, we reveal that more than 29 transactions with a value of over EUR46.3 billion were prohibited or abandoned in 2018 because of antitrust concerns.

Moreover, new moves by the European Union aimed at coordinating foreign investment screening mechanisms across the EU have the potential to add a new layer of collective scrutiny and complexity, as we explain in Investors face rapid proliferation of national interest tests.

Nevertheless, some areas of deal activity remain resilient. As our own exclusive analysis shows, there is a good supply of assets for sale, with auctions continuing to attract private equity and strategic players.

Digitalisation also continues to be a strategic catalyst for deal-making. There has been an acceleration of activity in the last year, with traditional companies transforming their operations for the digital age by looking to build, buy and/or collaborate with start-ups.

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