The value of global M&A increased by 10% in 2018, reaching its highest level since 2015 – but the number of deals completed fell, for the third year in a row.

The total value of global M&A deals reached U.S.$5,303,713m last year, although the number of deals continued to fall.
In all there were 97,709 deals in 2018, a 7% fall from the 104,849 seen in 2017, although this is still a higher volume of deals than any year prior to 2014.

Total global M&A value in 2018 was the third-highest on record, behind the U.S.$5,871,269m achieved in 2015 and U.S.$5,647,577m in 2017.

Looking at M&A values by region, Latin America saw M&A deals worth U.S.$72.6bn, down 17.1% on 2017; North America went up 16.7% to U.S.$1.64 trillion; and Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) rose by 2.6% to U.S.$717.4bn with Japan’s total reaching U.S.$46.8bn an increase of 2.5%.

EMEA market progresses

The value of M&A deals in the EMEA region were the largest outside the U.S. in 2018, with annual total deal value up 12% year-on-year to €837.9bn.

The technology, media and telecom (TMT) sector was the most active last year in terms of value, growing 175% year-on-year. This was driven by a number of major transactions in the sector, with four of the top 20 largest European deals of the year being TMT deals.

Private equity continued to thrive in 2018, with record-high levels of activity. Buyout deal value in Europe reached its highest point this decade, at €170bn.

Near-term outlook

Analysis of companies for sale monitored by Mergermarket in the EMEA regions between 2013 and 2018 gives an indication of the likely trends over the short term.

The TMT and industrial and chemical (I&C) sectors appear set to remain the most active in terms of M&A deal activity. Across all sectors, UK and Ireland are expected to be the most active, but whether these deals are actually completed or not will depend heavily on how the ongoing situation around Brexit turns out.

The Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region is predicted to be the second-most active region. Healthy GDP growth in the region, combined with an ongoing wave of succession-related sales – as entrepreneurs who founded their businesses in the past decades look to retire – have encouraged dealmakers to explore sale processes.

Other hot spots on the chart include the I&C sector in the German-speaking region and the consumer sector, especially in Italy where deals around food and food ingredients, fashion and luxury goods were particularly active last year.

Challenges for this year are likely to be similar to those seen in 2018, including increasing protectionism, the U.S.-China trade war and tariffs, and uncertainty
surrounding Brexit.

For more information, contact:

Eugenio Scaramuzza
Nexia Audirevi Transaction Services, Italy
T: +39 348 2296841

Andrea Moresco
Nexia Audirevi Transaction Services, Italy
T: +39 393 8816300