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Global M&A volumes to rise by 50% this year, says Morgan Stanley

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LA Post: Global M&A volumes to rise by 50% this year, says Morgan Stanley
March 05, 2024

(Reuters) - Global deal-making volumes will rise by 50% this year compared to 2023 as fears over funding costs, inflation and recession concerns abate, Morgan Stanley said in a note on Monday.

"We think that this 'winter' for mergers and acquisitions (M&A) is thawing and activity is set to return cyclically and secularly," the Wall Street brokerage said.

Morgan Stanley expects Europe and North American regions to benefit the most from deal-making activity, but also sees favorable M&A weather for India, Australia, South Korea, Japan and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries.

Aggressive interest rate hikes by major central banks, high inflation and recessionary fears hurt global M&A activity in 2023.

Global deal-making volumes sank 35% last year, the lowest reading since 2004, before adjusting for inflation, while volumes as a percentage of U.S. nominal gross domestic product was the lowest in at least three decades, Morgan Stanley said.

Expectations of a cut in borrowing costs later this year, a sustained cooling in consumer prices, hopes of a 'soft landing' of major economies and an increase in corporate confidence are likely to drive the rebound of M&A activity.

Demand for artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud capabilities, clean energy transition and innovation in life sciences will also be additional drivers for pickup in deals, Morgan Stanley added.

The brokerage sees health care, real estate, staples and technology sectors to be the primary beneficiaries of deal-making.

In terms of funding deals, cash and debt look more attractive than equity despite the rise in bond yields, Morgan Stanley said.

"Ample cash balances and wide-open investment grade markets mean that strategic activity has a financial advantage, while sponsors may face more urgency whatever the macro 'weather'," the brokerage added.

(Reporting by Siddarth S in Bengaluru; Editing by Eileen Soreng)


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