Sep 30, 2021 - Economy & Business

Mergers and acquisitions hit an all-time high

An arrow made up of dollar bills going up and to the right

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

The deal-making story of 2021 is up and to the right.

Driving the news: Global M&A activity is shattering all-time records through the first three quarters of 2021, according to preliminary data from Refinitiv.

By the numbers: Deal volume topped $4.3 trillion, nearly double the year-to-date period for 2020. It's also 34.4% higher than 2007, which was the prior record-holder and one of only two years in which $3 trillion was topped through the end of September.

  • The 2021 data includes $1.52 trillion for Q3, which also is an all-timer. Not just for a third quarter, but for any quarter.
  • Q3 also reflected higher average deal sizes, or at least higher disclosed deal sizes, as the number of deals was hundreds below any of the prior four quarters.
  • Geographically, European deal volume for Q3 is double 2020, while the U.S. is up 32% and Asia-Pacific climbed 21%. U.S. volume comprised 44.9% of global M&A year-to-date, and 36.9% for Q3.
  • Tech continued to lead all other industry sectors, with a 20.7% market share YTD, followed by financials (12%), industrials (11.3%) and energy (10%).

What’s happening? Animal spirits.

What’s the fear? Did you miss the reference to 2007?

The bottom line: This isn't just a deal-making boom. It's a deal-making boom in the context of a global pandemic and expectations of tax and interest rate hikes. Yes, cycles will eventually reassert themselves. But, for now, the economic Teflon is unprecedented.

Go deeper