Skip to main content

M&A in 2021

US drives global dealmaking to all-time high

M&A monitor

2021 breaks new records for deal value

Welcome to our final M&A monitor of 2021, in which we take a deep dive into global deal data across the year and pinpoint the issues we expect to shape transactional activity through 2022 and beyond.

The most eye-catching number of the year is the aggregate figure for global M&A by value, which had hit $5.5tn by early December, eight percent higher the previous annual record of $5.13tn with three weeks of the year still to run. Deal volumes were up on 2020 but not by much, meaning the value of the average M&A transaction globally topped $100m for the first time, a rise of more than 36 percent year-on-year.

The numbers are remarkable given the factors dragging on deals, from rising interest rates to tougher antitrust scrutiny on both sides of the Atlantic. However, these challenges are currently outweighed by incentives, not least the continued availability of cheap financing and the fact the equity markets are favoring deal activity. The stock prices of companies who have completed a deal this year are outperforming those who haven’t by more than 2 percent, according to a recent study.

M&A value is up in every industry across the year, with industrials and materials and real estate (+59 percent) showing the biggest rise. Real estate is perhaps the most surprising success story amid a global health crisis that has kept millions away from work; activity in the sector bounced back strongly from a subdued 2020, pushing the value of the average real estate deal this year almost 80 percent higher to $157m.

Our team