Skip to content
M&A Insights Q1 2020 - Confronting the unknown
M&A Insights Q1 2020 - Confronting the unknown

Global M&A outlook: confronting the unknown

The Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic is bringing the global transactions market to a near standstill with a sharp slowdown in dealmaking likely to persist until the public health crisis is brought under control. Even then, the market, and the motivations of investors, may look very different.

During the record-breaking bull run in global transactions that began more than six years ago, it has at times felt like the M&A market had become impervious to external shocks. While all cycles do eventually end, few guessed that it would be one catastrophic event that would eventually drag the market to a sudden halt, but the onset of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has done just that – at least in the short term. 

As growing numbers of countries move into “lockdown” to contain the spread of the virus, it is no exaggeration to say that the pandemic has, in just a few weeks, changed the world, and will potentially have a much longer lasting effect. The crisis has had an immediate impact on deal activity, and across our global network we have seen that impact follow a familiar pattern, detailed in our report. 

In this environment, global M&A markets are expected to go into reverse after their longest ever period of sustained growth, with the likelihood that activity will remain minimal until it is clear the pandemic has passed its peak and some sense of real social stability has been restored.

What lies ahead?

During this uncertain and challenging time, the biggest immediate priority is to take exceptional action to combat the pandemic and protect public health. Forecasting the timing, the scale and the shape of recovery remains a matter of speculation. 

But the rapid and extraordinary way that the global economy has suddenly ground to a halt – plus the aggressive fiscal policies implemented by governments and central banks as stimulus packages – may hold out the hope of an equally rapid return to growth once the virus has been contained and is clearly in retreat. 

When that time comes, what might be the shape of things to come in the M&A markets?  


Read the full report

M&A Insights Q1 2020 - Confronting the unknown

Covid-19 coronavirus: confronting the unknown


Covid-19 coronavirus: wider perspectives

Allen & Overy graphic

Discover more from our lawyers across the world to help you prepare for the impact of Covid-19 on your business

Related insights on Covid-19 coronavirus

Previous articles

New strategies for a cooling market

Read more

Antitrust authorities get tough in the face of political pressure

Read more

Brazil targets inbound investors with privatisation plan

Read more

Life sciences: growth in more challenging times

Read more

Private equity: waiting for price expectations to align

Read more

In focus: Consortium deals – a surer route to digital transformation?

Read more

Previous reports