M&A slowdown crosses the Atlantic ahead of US Presidential Election

Jake Cordell
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Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump
Corporate tie-ups are losing steam ahead of the US Presidential Election (Source: Getty)

Corporate dealmaking across the pond is slowing ahead of the US Presidential Election, fresh research has shown.

The number of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) taking place in North America has dropped 15 per cent so far this year, according to advisers Willis Towers Watson, while Europe is on course to set a post-crisis high in terms of deal volume.

M&A activity has been under the spotlight in the UK in the context of the EU referendum. Before the vote, analysts said big deals were being put on hold, while in the shock which followed the 23 June ballot, it was unclear if, and how quickly, action would return. However, a £24bn takeover of ARM Holdings by Japanese Softbank put paid to some concerns and a flurry of smaller firms have also announced IPOs in recent weeks.

Read more: The US and the UK have a special dealmaking relationship

Willis Towers Watson said 47 deals worth more than $100m (£77m) had been completed in Europe in the third quarter, taking the year-to-date total to 125. The most since the financial crisis in any calendar year came in 2011, which saw 211 multi-million deals. The group added the number of “mega deals” - those worth more than $10bn - completed around the world has already passed last year’s total.

“With growing European deal volumes, continued share outperformance for acquirers and a high number of mega deals shoring up the market, M&A activity is clearly strong and acquirers continue to deliver value,” said Steve Allan, M&A leader at Willis Towers Watson.

“The relative drop in US volume may be caused by the continued uncertainty from the US election,” he added, as political risks drift across the Atlantic in the aftermath of the EU referendum.

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