Apr 1, 2022 - Economy

Global dealmaking tops $1 trillion in Q1

Balloons with president faces from U.S. currency

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Companies announced just over $1 trillion of mergers and acquisitions in the first quarter of 2022, which ended yesterday, according to Refinitiv.

  • That's a big number for a first quarter, which begins as many deal-makers are still shaking sand from their vacation shoes. In fact, it's the fourth-largest Q1 tally ever.
  • That's a small number in context of last year, which was a record-breaker with $1.3 trillion of activity. Moreover, monthly volumes moved in the wrong direction.

What to know: Q1 was one of the most complex, challenging quarters ever for dealmakers.

  • It began with Omicron, got a brief respite and then was consumed by the war in Ukraine. All the while, inflation and a public equities pullback.
  • For context, Q1 2019 was a macroeconomic cakewalk. And it didn't hit the $1 trillion mark.
  • The biggest questions swirl around March, which had the lowest dollar volume since January 2021 and the lowest deal volume since August 2020. Was that a war-related blip or part of a slippery descent?

By the numbers: Private equity volume grew 17% year-over-year to $288 billion, meaning it represented nearly 28% of global M&A, although the number of deals fell by 23.3%.

  • The largest deal, by far, was Microsoft's planned purchase of Activision Blizzard (see more about that below).
  • U.S. M&A activity fell to $517 billion from $644 billion in Q1 2020, while China M&A dropped to $65 billion from $121 billion.
  • Global advisory league tables remained consistent, with Goldman, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and Citi in the top four spots. Same quartet for Europe.
  • Tech was again the top industry, growing its market share to around 26%, with financials again a distant second.

The bottom line: It's tough to take lessons or direction from such a tumultuous three months. Let's check back in on July 1st.

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