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Global M&A transactions top USD5 trillion for first time

The value of global M&A transactions surged to a record high of over USD5.8 trillion in 2021, an increase of 64% on 2020, and 48% higher than 2018, the previous highest year on record.

The U.S. was the main driver behind the record year, with M&A value up by 82% (an increase of USD1.14trn, which accounted for more than half of overall global growth).

The number of deals was up by a more muted, but still impressive, 24%, and 22% higher than 2018. All sectors saw growth on a global basis, with Financials, Energy and TMT enjoying record years. The same was true for most regions, as North America, Europe, Asia and MENA all posted record M&A transaction values. Deal values were relatively flat across Greater China, Central Asia and Eastern Europe although deal volumes did show some growth.

This remarkably strong result was partly down to a significant uplift in megadeals, with transactions worth more than USD5 billion and USD10bn up by 46% and 30%, respectively.

Cross-border activity continued to recover strongly after 2020’s hiatus, recording a 68% increase in value and a 37% lift in volume. Domestic activity also remained equally robust.

Private equity investors deployed accumulated capital at an accelerating pace during the year, with the value of buyouts climbing by 103%, 75% higher than in the record breaking 2017. Meanwhile, the value of transactions involving either a public target or acquirer climbed by 72%.

The real powerhouse behind this incredibly resilient market was the technology sector, as we explore in detail in this edition. Here deal values climbed 71% to USD1.1trn, while the number of transactions was up by 34%.

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