“Global mergers and acquisitions rose to the highest level in four years this quarter, as a surge in U.S. deals provided ground for optimism and salvaged what had been the worst year for takeovers since the financial crisis.
Companies worldwide have announced $691.9 billion in purchases in the final three months of the year, the most since the third quarter of 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. While transactions for all of 2012 shrank about 10 percent to $2.19 trillion, the same level as 2010, about $86 billion of telecommunications deals, including Softbank Corp.’s planned purchase of a stake in Sprint Nextel Corp., gave the end of the year a boost.
Chief executive officers sitting on more than $3.5 trillion in cash held off on deals for most of 2012 as Europe slid into recession, developing economies such as China cooled and $600 billion in possible spending cuts and tax increases threatened U.S. growth. The pickup in takeovers may extend into next year as American and European lawmakers take more decisive steps to fortify the global economic recovery, said Gene Sykes, global head of M&A at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
“Wait and see has been the dominant attitude of corporations’ approach to acquisitions because of the macroeconomic uncertainty due to the U.S. fiscal cliff and the euro debt crisis,” said Sykes, whose New York-based firm was the top adviser on M&A globally this year. “Once these crises find a solution there will likely be a rebound in activity driven by continuing consolidation in natural resources, industrials, technology and financial services…..”