GLOBAL M&A Statistical Update – XBMA Annual Review for 2018

Executive Summary/Highlights:

  • Global M&A volume in 2018 reached US$4.0 trillion, a level achieved only once before in the last decade (2015).
  • 2018 was a notably strong year for cross-border M&A, despite escalating trade tensions and anti-globalist rhetoric. US$1.6 trillion (39%) of deals in 2018 were cross-border transactions, approximating recent highs in terms of both dollar value and percentage of global deal volume.
  • Takeda Pharmaceutical’s US$77 billion cross-border acquisition of Shire was the largest deal of the year in global M&A. 2018’s other cross-border mega-deals included T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom’s US$60 billion deal with Sprint and Comcast’s US$48 billion acquisition of Sky.
  • M&A was propelled by strong economic growth and an abundance of corporate cash (including from tax reform in the U.S.), the continued availability of inexpensive debt through Q3, and strategic imperatives to address or anticipate technological disruption. In the second half of 2018, however, global trade tensions, rising interest rates in the U.S., and equity market volatility combined to slow global M&A activity from its record-setting pace.
  • With Bristol-Myers Squibb’s US$95 billion acquisition of Celgene announced just after year end, M&A in 2019 looks to be off to a promising start, although it is too early to tell if the torrid pace of M&A over the past few years will continue unabated in 2019.

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