M&A Activity on Pace to Catch Up With 2007

Nearly 20,000 deals worth $2.2 trillion have been announced so far this year, a pace that approaches pre-financial crisis levels.
Katie Kuehner-HebertJuly 1, 2015

Mergers and acquisitions activity is continuing to boom, with the pace of deals so far this year approaching the levels immediately before the financial crisis, The New York Times reports.

The NYT cited Thomson Reuters data showing that nearly 20,000 deals worth $2.2 trillion have been announced this year as of June 29, up roughly 40% from the first half of 2014 in terms of dollar value.

The value of deals so far this year is approaching the $2.3 trillion worth of deals announced in the first half of 2007, right before the subprime mortgage meltdown that led to the 2008 financial crisis.

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“What’s been remarkable has been the consistent appetite within boards and management teams for more growth,” Chris Ventresca, the global co-head of mergers and acquisitions at JPMorgan Chase, told the NYT.

The largest deal this year to date was Royal Dutch Shell’s $70 billion takeover of the BG Group, while much of the M&A activity has been within the telecommunications and health care industries — Charter’s purchase of Time Warner Cable, Anthem’s bid for Cigna, and possible deals for Humana and Aetna.

“Deal makers say that as companies have exhausted other ways to drive up their stock prices, such as stock buybacks and special dividends, they have turned to mergers to try to jump-start growth,” the NYT wrote. “They have also become more emboldened to take on the risk of a big deal. Investors have rewarded many acquirers by pushing up their stock prices after a transaction is announced.”

Companies are paying for purchases by accessing “cheap debt” or using their shares as valuations have risen. On the other side, buyers appear to be more disciplined about the prices they are willing to pay.

The price multiple — the ratio of total enterprise value to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization — of deals struck in the first half of this year was lower on average than at the same time last year, at 16.3 times compared with 19.9 times, according to an analysis by Standard & Poor’s Capital IQ.

Goldman was leading deal adviser in worldwide activity, with 213 deals worth $672 billion, followed by Morgan Stanley, with $569 billion worth of activity, and JPMorgan, with $476 billion.