Deals worth more than US$1,500bn were announced in the second quarter of 2021, as the mergers & acquisitions (M&A) market continues to go bonkers.
Statistics from the data information provider Refinitiv indicates that global M&A activity broke records for the second quarter in a row, with the value of deals unveiled in the second quarter topping the first-quarter’s level by 13%.
This was despite the number of deals being down 10% quarter-on-quarter.
In the US, US$699bn worth of deals were announced, up 440% on the same quarter of 2020, when just about everyone was unsure how many companies would survive the year, never mind be in a position to take over a rival.
Enthusiasm for deals in the second quarter was possibly stoked by a desire to get the transactions done before President Biden finds some way to tax the dealmakers’ commissions at a higher rate.
The craze for so-called “blank cheque” cash shells – special purpose acquisitions companies (SPACS) – died out somewhat in the USA in the second quarter but private equity (PE) firms stepped into the breach, with PE buyouts up 152% year-on-year in the first half of the year.
Refinitiv said PE buyouts represented 18% of global M&A volumes.
In the Asia-Pacific region, the value of deals doubled to US$327bn while Europe trailed behind with a 50% increase in the value of deals at US$293bn.
In the UK, private equity firms have been on the prowl although they have not always been getting things their own way; Morrisons sent Clayton, Dubilier & Rice away with its tail between its legs last month while the same PE firm was forced by recalcitrant shareholders to up its offer for UDG Healthcare PLC (LON:UDG), despite UDG’s board recommending recommended acceptance of a previous low-ball offer.
Similarly, the board of property company St Modwen Properties PLC (LON:SMP) was happy to take the money and run when Blackstone came calling but some hard-nosed shareholders held out, forcing Blackstone to increase its offer by 3.3%.