A string of mega deals drives global M&A recovery in first quarter

Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:13pm EDT
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By Sophie Sassard and Anjuli Davies

LONDON (Reuters) - A string of large transactions drove the value of global mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity up by 54 percent in the first quarter compared to the same period last year, reflecting greater deal-making confidence among chief executives.

The value of worldwide announced deals totaled $710 billion in the first three months of the year, according to Thomson Reuters data, which includes competing bids for Time Warner Cable and SFR. Global M&A is up 35 percent excluding these competing bids.

Almost half of the M&A pot came from deals worth $5 billion or more.

The number of deals however dropped by 14 percent, the slowest year-to-date period for dealmaking by number of deals since 2003. This means fewer but larger deals have been driving activity so far this year.

"There have been several transformational deals and companies have made some bold and aggressive moves. I'm hopeful that we'll see more of this in 2014.", said Hernan Cristerna, co-head of global M&A at JP Morgan.

"We've seen something of a return of animal spirits."

Comcast Corp trumped Charter Communications with a bid valuing Time Warner Cable at $70.6 billion in enterprise value, the largest transaction in the works since January.

Earlier this year, Ireland-based Actavis. the world's second-largest generic drugmaker, spent $23.8 billion to buy U.S. specialty pharmaceuticals firm Forest Laboratories, its largest acquisition ever.   Continued...

A woman walks past the old Time Warner Cable headquarters as a man tries to enter the building in New York February 13, 2014. REUTERS/Joshua Lott