By Stephen Grocer, WSJ Deal Journal, June 7, 2010:
M&A recovery? Deals just around the corner?
That may be what Wall Street wants you to believe.
But the numbers tell a different story. The volume of deal-making during 2010 has been weak. Very weak.
U.S. announced deal volume is down 14.7% from the same period last year, according to Dealogic. In Europe, it’s off 6%.
Those numbers are made only more stark given the year-over-year comparison stretches back to a period in 2009 when economy was still mired in the worse financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Perhaps more troubling is the dearth of large deals. So far only seven deals valued above $10 billion have been announced globally, the lowest total in the past five years. Seven transactions rank as the lowest total in the past five years.
With so few big deals, the average deal size both world-wide and in the U.S. has plummeted to its lowest levels since 2003. The U.S. saw the steepest decline. Last year the average deal size in the U.S. was $309 million through the first five months. This year it’s nearly half that.
The only thing keeping the M&A business going is activity in the developing world. Deal volume in Latin America is up nearly two-fold, and 175% in India (admittedly off of small bases from 2009).
Perhaps the late Bruce Wasserstein will prove prophetic. Last summer the legendary deal maker said deal activty would not return to peak levels until 2013, and that the four years in between would see only a gradual increase.
Just consider today’s unemployment figures and consider this: If companies aren’t confident enough to hire, are they confident enough to pull a trigger on a deal?