FEWER mergers and acquisitions were made in May this year than in any month since February 2005, with a fall of 266 since April, according to Dealogic.
The volume of acquisitions by Western European groups was down even more, falling 28 per cent on the amount taken by May 2012.
The figure stood at $172.6bn (£113.3bn) for 2013 so far, the weakest recorded since 1997.
The decline in volume for oil and gas mergers, which is 50 per cent lower in 2013 to date than it was at the same point last year, and the lowest since 2005.
More mergers and acquisitions are now conducted among American firms, with their share of the global market increasing from 50 per cent in 2012 to 54 per cent now, notably at the expense of European competitors.