Overview of M&A Activity in 2020

Even in the pre COVID-19 “normal” times, M&A was a long and complicated process which included many risks. To see how global M&A market performed in the year of the pandemic, we bring you an overview of Mergermarket’s global M&A report for 2020.

As the clock stroke midnight many investors were hopefully looking towards the future. However, even as we leave 2020 behind us, we are left with the impact it had on the market. Corporates and sponsors alike have spent their way through the crisis in the second half of 2020, with unprecedented levels of deal making in the final few months of the year. The USD 1.2tn worth of deal values announced in the final quarter was the highest quarterly value since Q2 2007, according to Mergermarket.

Meanwhile, the first half of the year saw an unprecedented drop in deal value of -49.3% YoY with global deal value amounting to USD 966bn. The reason, of course, was the raging pandemic which put many acquisition plans on hold, or even led to their complete abandonment. So putting together USD 966bn in 1H with the record of USD 2.2tr in 2H, we arrive at USD 3,163bn showing that global deal value declined by only 6.6% YoY. When looking from mergers and acquisitions perspective, 2020 was not such a bad year. It was almost on the level of 2016 (USD 3,203bn) and 2017 (USD 3,196bn), which came after a record M&A year of 2015 (USD 3,876bn).

Breakdown of Global M&A Deal Value (USD bn)

Even though activity on M&A markets came to a standstill, activity on debt and equity capital markets picked up. In addition to a significant volume of high yield bond issuances and secondary equity offerings, special purpose acquisition companies (SPAC) became the star of 2020, particularly in the US.  A total of 255 SPACs were launched in 2020, raising USD 82.1bn, compared to USD 13.5bn across 73 listings in 2019, according to Dealogic data (to read more about SPACs in 2020 click here). However, not all companies could find the needed capital. As a result insolvencies and bankruptcy filings climbed steadily through the year – Debtwire Restructuring data show a 33% YoY increase in US filings, from 240 to 319.

Regional Activity

The biggest gainer in 2020 was Asia (including Japan), which saw its global market share rise in both value and volume (up by 7.4% and 2.2% respectively). Meanwhile, Europe also saw its share of global deal value increase to 26.8% (from to 23.7%) while registering a small decline in overall deal count. On the flip side, North America, which had seen its global market share steadily rising over the years, saw its deal value decline substantially (from 50.5% to 41.9%) while remaining the same on deal count (33.3%).

If there was a “winner” in 2020, it was mega deal professionals. According to Mergermarket, deals of USD 5bn or greater experienced an impressive surge, increasing from 91 in 2019 to a total of 111 in 2020, with 79 of them occurring in the second half. This represented the second highest number of such large deals since 2007, only behind 2015 (127 deals). Meanwhile, smaller-sized transactions saw double digit declines across the board. In particular, deals under USD 250m experienced a 12.1% decline in value and 1,270 fewer transactions compared to 2019.

Sector Overview

Turning our attention to the most popular sectors involved in M&A transactions last year, on the back of the trends magnified by the pandemic, Technology, Media, & Telecommunications climbed 56.8% by value compared to the previous year, from USD 543.4bn to USD 851.8bn. Note that this accounted to more than a quarter of overall global activity. Volume on the other hand declined slightly to 3,943 deals. Looking only at Technology segment it grew 47.4% YoY to USD 590.2bn of deal value, making it the most important deal making segment amounting to 19% of total deal value. The next best performing sector was Energy, Mining & Utilities (EMU), which also saw a 3.8% increase by value to USD 477.7bn but a 13.8% decline in deal count to 1,326. Finally, Industrials & Chemicals rounds up the three best performing sectors in 2020, showing however a 27.1% drop to the previous year – from 3,791 to 3,023 transactions.

Breakdown of Global M&A Deal Value by Sector (USD bn)

Filip Gracin
Category : Blog

Want to invest? Do not know how and where? Contact us and we will solve everything for you.