Europe tops M&A rankings for two years running

Willis Towers Watson’s Quarterly Deal Performance Monitor (QDPM) found that Europe was the only global region to record a positive deal performance (+0.6pp on the regional index) within the M&A sphere in 2019.

This came despite a negative performance from the UK (-3.7pp).

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Dealmakers in North America and Asia-Pacific, meanwhile, decreased in performance by 5.6pp and 3.2pp respectively, showing that acquirers in those regions struggled to get the most value out of their M&A deals.

China in particular saw a substantial decline in M&A deals, going from a record high of 243 to just 72 in 2019.

“As we reach the end of the decade, 2019 shows a sharp decline in global deal volume, potentially the slowest pace in M&A activity since 2011, with the market having become a more nervous place and dealmakers having had to confront increasingly complex governance issues to complete transactions,” said Jana Mercereau, head of corporate mergers and acquisitions for Great Britain at Willis Towers Watson.

“European acquirers have not only outperformed their counterparts in North America and Asia-Pacific for the last two years, but also completed the fewest deals of any region in this period.

“This trend points to the benefits of a more disciplined market with corporations focusing on core competencies and prioritising strategic deals.”

Across the board, M&A was found to be down from 2018, with 699 deals being made worldwide in 2019 compared to 904 in 2018.

Also dramatically down from last year was domestic deals, with 448 of this kind being made compared to 638 in 2018, while cross-border deals only decreased by 15.

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Only deals worth at least $100 million met the criteria for the study, the data of which was sourced from Refinitiv.

Also left out of the research were deals in which acquirers owned under 50% of the target’s shares.