Dec 28, 2023 - Business

Global mergers and acquisitions hit lowest level in a decade

Illustration of two hands about to shake, but being kept apart by a downward trending arrow.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Global merger and acquisition activity in 2023 fell 17% to $2.87 trillion, the lowest level in over a decade, according to London Stock Exchange Group data.

Why it matters: A slow M&A market can strain companies seeking growth or investment.

  • The 2023 tally was driven lower by economic worries and tight financing markets.
  • The last time global M&A fell below $3 trillion was in 2013, thanks in part to the eurozone crisis.

Inside the numbers: U.S. M&A outperformed the globe, falling 6% to $1.36 trillion. This was aided by a flurry of deals in late December, including a $15 billion deal for U.S. Steel and a $14 billion takeover of schizophrenia drugmaker Karuna Therapeutics.

  • Global private equity-backed buyouts fell nearly 30%.
  • Japan was the only region that saw acquisition value grow, soaring 32% on the strength of a $14 billion takeover of electronics and energy giant Toshiba.
  • Deals below $500 million, which comprise the vast majority of activity, were down 27% in terms of dollar volume and 6% in terms of deal number.
  • Goldman, Morgan Stanley, and JPMorgan were the top three global M&A advisers for banks. Latham & Watkins, Davis Polk, and Kirkland & Ellis were the top three legal advisers.

Head of the class: The year's largest announced deal was ExxonMobil agreeing to buy Pioneer Natural Resources for $65 billion, followed by Chevron inking a $60 billion agreement for Hess Corp. and Pfizer agreeing to buy Seagen for $42 billion.

Go deeper: In down year, private credit greases M&A wheels

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