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M&A activity in Europe slows to an all-time low

Europe was home to just 15.3% of global M&A activity in the first quarter of 2019, the lowest percentage on record, according to a survey released Tuesday by Mergermarket. Deals have fallen by 20.7% since the fourth quarter of 2018.

This image shows that 2018 was the highest year for mergers and acquisitions in Europe, and 2019 was the worst year.
Adapted from a Mergermarket report; Chart: Axios Visuals

Details: So far this year, none of the 10 largest deals globally have targeted Europe, with no takeovers above $10 billion announced. The largest deal in the first quarter saw ZF Friedrichshafen acquire Swiss brake technology manufacturer WABCO for $7.2 billion.

  • Despite holding record levels of dry powder, European firms have slowed buying as the continent's top economies flirt with recession and Britain remains mired in uncertainty over Brexit.
  • European M&A plummeted to its lowest quarterly value since the third quarter of 2012, with a total of $122.9 billion changing hands across 1,387 deals.

The big picture: Globally, M&A deals rose to $801.5 billion in the first quarter, an 15% increase from Q1 2018. The U.S. saw a 29% increase year-over-year.

"The uncertainty has hit domestic European M&A," Mergermarket analysts wrote in the study. "In total, intra-European dealmaking amounted to $64.2 billion (1,169 deals), signifying that domestic activity has failed to reach the $100 billion mark for three successive quarters."

  • However, analysts note, in recent weeks rumors of banking consolidation have re-emerged with Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank in talks.

Go deeper: Germany is Europe's most economically dangerous country