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Mega-deals prop up a nervous M&A market

Matthew Toole
Matthew Toole
Director, Deals Intelligence

As Q2 comes to an end the Deals Intelligence team explores the latest trends and highlights in the M&A landscape. It was always going to be tough to beat the monster opening to 2021, but with all the uncertainties of 2022, the first six-months of M&A has been remarkably strong.

  1. Worldwide M&A activity totalled US$2.2trn during H1 2022 a decrease of 21 percent compared with year-ago levels.
  2. ECM activity totalled US$237bn during H1 2022, a 67 percent decrease compared with the first half of 2021.
  3. Overall global debt capital markets activity totalled US$4.8 trillion during H1 2022, down 14 percent compared with the first half of 2021.

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An impressive $2.2trn in M&A deals has been announced worldwide in the first six months of 2022, continuing a remarkable two-year streak of $1trn-plus quarters. However, the total tally was down by one-fifth compared with the bumper first half of 2021, while the number of deals dipped 17 percent, with 700 announced transactions.


In the face of geopolitical and macro-economic uncertainty, the very largest deals held up well, with $10bn-plus deals rising 11 percent on the year to total $608bn, the best period for mega-deals in three years.

Three of the top five acquisitions were giant U.S.-based tech deals: Microsoft’s $69bn acquisition of Activision Blizzard; VMware’s purchase by Broadcom for $68bn; and Elon Musk’s $40bn run at Twitter.

By contrast, deals between $1bn and $5bn fell 35 percent compared with the same period last year to touch a two-year low.

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Private equity busy in developed markets

Private equity sponsors continued their buying spree to take a record 26 percent market share in the first half of 2022.

A total of $553bn of buyouts represented a 1 percent uptick, although the number of such deals fell 23 percent on the year.

It’s worth noting that buyout sponsors are being regionally selective: emerging markets buyout activity fell 41 percent in the first half of the year, to reach just $67bn.

Despite their reputation for ‘buying well’, it’s not clear from the aggregate statistic that private equity firms are necessarily under-paying: value-to-EBITDA multiples are significantly above pre-pandemic levels of H1 2019.


Meanwhile, Special Purpose Acquisition Companies announced 100 ‘business combinations’ in the period, totalling $65bn and 3 percent of the market.

The U.S. falters, emerging markets hold up

The U.S. market has lost some of its dominance, falling from almost half of the market in early 2021 to just 44 percent, with H1 deal-making falling 28 percent to total $958bn.

Smaller declines elsewhere – 4 percent in EMEA and 5 percent across Asia-Pacific – has helped redress a growing imbalance towards America.

Speaking of imbalances, China and India accounted for 57 percent of all emerging markets M&A in the period, up from 47 percent last year. Meanwhile, strong growth in Taiwan, India and the UAE helped to offset double-digit falls in Israel, Brazil and China.

India’s HDFC Bank all-share merger with the country’s largest mortgage broker marked the third-largest M&A deal worldwide.

In aggregate, H1 emerging market M&A activity was down a relatively modest 14 percent on the bumper opening to 2021, totalling a still respectable $531bn.

By sector, technology deals accounted for one-quarter of the market – an all-time record – despite a fall by about one-fifth in number and value to $531bn.

Goldman Sachs completed a ten-year streak as top global rainmaker for H1 worldwide M&A. Meanwhile, Citi took top spot for M&A advice in emerging markets, pushing Goldman to second place in those regions.

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What is the overall outlook for M&A thus far for 2022?

Worldwide M&A activity totalled US$2.2trn during H1 2022 a decrease of 21 percent compared with year-ago levels.