Executive Summary/Highlights: 
  • Global deal volume in 2017 exceeded US$3.6 trillion, just US$80 billion shy of 2016’s volume. 2015, 2016, and 2017 have been the three strongest years of deal-making since the financial crisis, with 2015 representing the high water mark of US$4.4 trillion.
  • Consistent with the trend over the previous two years, global M&A accelerated in Q4, as deal volume exceeded US$1.1 trillion, an increase of almost US$300 billion (or approximately 33%) versus Q3. The acceleration of M&A activity in Q4, driven by robust global economies, tax reform in the United States, and strategic responses to disruptive technologies, provides momentum for continued robust deal-making in 2018, including cross-border M&A.
  • Cross-border M&A activity exceeded US$1.2 trillion in 2017, accounting for approximately 35% of global M&A volume, consistent with recent historical proportions, and accounted for five of the 10 largest deals of 2017.
  • The United States continued to claim the largest share of global deal volume in Q4 and in full-year 2017. Over 46% of global M&A volume (more than US$500 billion) in Q4 consisted of deals involving U.S. targets. For full-year 2017, U.S. targets accounted for $1.4 trillion (40%) of deal volume, with approximately 18% of U.S. deals involving non-U.S. acquirors.
  • Deals for European targets remained the second most active segment in Q4, constituting almost 20% of global M&A volume (but less than the recent historical average of 24%). The market for Chinese targets also continued to demonstrate strength, accounting for more than 17% of global deal volume in Q4 (up from its recent historical average of 15%).
  • For each year since 2012, Q1 has had the lowest quarterly volume of M&A globally (and in North America, excepting 2017, when Q2 was the year’s least active quarter).
  • Global M&A volume in 2017 was led by the Real Estate sector, which topped US$525 billion for the year, driven by a strong Q4. The Energy & Power and High Technology sectors were also among the most active sectors in 2017, with US$482 billion and US$462 billion in deal volume, respectively.
  • Cross-border deals were an especially large component of activity in the Telecommunications sector and the Consumer Products sector, in which cross-border deals accounted for nearly 51% and 45% of global M&A volume, respectively, in 2017. In other sectors, the shares of global M&A volume attributable to cross-border deals ranged from 24% to 39%.

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