MERGERS and acquisitions (M&A) volumes are 38 per cent lower than this time last year, according to data published yesterday.<br /><br />The volume of transactions was worth just $739.9bn for the year to date, down from $1,177.7bn for the same period last year – marking the slowest start for worldwide M&A since 2004, according to Thomson Reuters.<br /><br />Overall, the volume of activity for May amounts to just $128bn – the slowest May for six years.<br /><br />“There’s a recession. That pretty much sums it up,” said Morton Pierce, chairman of Dewey & LeBoeuf’s M&A group.<br /><br />The drop in activity has had a dramatic effect on advisory fees, with those from completed mergers amounting to $6.3bn for the year year-to-date 2009, a 58 per cent fall compared to last year.<br /><br />So far this year, JP Morgan tops the rankings for worldwide M&A advisory work with $273.3bn from 116 deals. Morgan Stanley came a close second with $272.3bn worth of fees from 102 deals. Citigroup, which last year was top of the rankings followed in third place, with Goldman Sachs in fourth place.<br /><br />Among the top 10 advisers, only Morgan Stanley and Evercore Partners showed an increase in deal volume, according to Thomson Reuters. Evercore ranked tenth among the top advisers, with a 6.8 per cent increase in deal volume from last year. Financials, healthcare, and energy and power deals accounted for 63 per cent of worldwide M&A volume so far this year. In the second half of the year, investment bankers said they expect the financial sector to be busy as more banks consolidate and the pharmaceuticals sector to be busy with deals as drug companies search for new growth products.