MERGER and acquisition activity hit a record high in the opening weeks of 2013, according to new figures from Dealogic, marking a stark change from the flat markets of 2012 as US deals drove the sector.
The first two weeks of the year saw $80.8bn (£50.1bn) worth of deals globally – the best start to a year on record.
That is a 69 per cent increase on the same period of 2012 and a sharp turnaround from last year as a whole, which saw few deals done in cautious markets.
The rise is mostly due to several large deals going through – the overall number of deals dropped 62 per cent compared with the opening of 2012.
The largest deal of last week went through on 8 January, as the Dish Network bought Clearwire in the US in a deal valued at £8bn.
That was followed by a group of funds and real estate groups acquiring New Albertsons for $3.3bn, again in the US, and Italian firm Assicurazioni Generali buying Czech group Generali PPF Holding for $1.7bn.
As the rankings indicate, the Americas saw the most deals in the year to date, with a total of $76.8bn over 64 advised deals accounting for 92 per cent of the total.
Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) came next with just six per cent of deals so far this year – 30 advised deals totalling $4.9bn.
And the nine Asia Pacific deals amounted to $1.7bn, or two per cent of the total.
Morgan Stanley leads the adviser rankings so far with nine deals worth $61.3bn, or 61 per cent of the total – an average deal size of $6.8bn.
Barclays is in second place with $59.7bn, a 59 per cent share over 13 deals.
And JP Morgan came in third place, with a 57.6 per cent share over six deals – but with a much larger average deal size at $9.6bn.