Global public M&A reaches $361bn in the first quarter of 2024 as the market gains momentum

  • Global public M&A reached $361bn in the first quarter of this year – the highest deal value the market has seen since Q2 in 2022 where it topped $511bn.

Simon Branigan, Global Head of Linklaters Corporate Division:

“The global public M&A market has seen a turbulent few years navigating geopolitical and economic challenges. The market now shows promising signs of an upward trajectory. In the first quarter of this year, global deal values reached levels similar to the bumper deal making period in 2021 and the first half of 2022. Some of the obstacles which have previously hindered deals are lessening, including access to debt and financing options. However, deals are taking longer to close and becoming increasingly more complex due to, in part, antitrust regulators becoming much more interventionist and less predictable. Clients are looking to us to support them on their large scale, cross-border, complex transactions due to the strength of our client relations and the unparalleled nature of our platform.”

Public M&A looks set to return to higher values in 2024, according to analysis by global law firm Linklaters*.

  • The United States public M&A market topped $244.3bn, the highest value of deals since 2022 which reached $260bn in Q2.
  • In Europe public M&A reached $47bn – this has largely been driven by the uptick in the UK market which has seen its highest quarter since Q2 2022, reaching $21bn.
  • Asia saw the highest volume of public M&A deals since Q4 in 2021 which reached 790, seeing 644 deals take place already this year. However, the value of deals in the region is lower than this time last year where public M&A figures reached $58bn and currently reached $33bn.  
  • Globally, the Technology sector saw the largest share of deals in the first three months of this year at 19%, a resurgence compared to its 14% share in 2023. Other active sectors in Q1 2024 include Energy & Utilities (15%), Banks (13%), Telecoms, Media & Business Services (TM&BS) (12%), and Healthcare (11%). See graph below:

M&A Pie

Linklaters’ analysis has also revealed that public M&A levels are on an upwards trajectory by volume as well as value. The number of deals announced rose steadily from 1196 to 1299 in the first and last quarters of 2023 respectively, while 1213 deals announced in Q1 2024. This trend is particularly evident in the United States, see graph below:

M&A line

George Casey, Global Chairman of Corporate based in the United States:

“With the increasing likelihood of the U.S. economy achieving a soft landing, cooling inflation, and expected interest rates cuts later this year, Boards and management are more confident in pursuing strategic transactions, and investors see a way to secure financing on acceptable terms and get deals over the finish line. Following 2023, one of the slowest years for M&A in quite some time, I am cautiously optimistic that the upward trajectory we saw in Q1 for M&A will continue, particularly in the energy, health care, industrials, and technology sectors and in cross-border deals. While concerns are still there about regulatory environment, we will likely see buyers and sellers getting more active across the board.”

Kristina Klaaßen-Kaiser, European Head of Corporate based in Germany:

“Public M&A has faced significant challenges over the last 18 months due to macroeconomic impacts, geopolitical conflicts and volatile energy costs. However, in the course of 2024 we are expecting to see the tide turn and there is momentum in the market. This analysis has underlined that Europe, outside the UK, is slightly slower to recover on the public M&A front and increased protectionism on the antitrust and foreign investment side continues to require thorough consideration but our practice is seeing a number of different strategies starting to play which we expect to drive activity this year. Investors are re-gaining confidence as well as access to financing and are looking for investments not only in markets that were struck most by the polycrisis. At the same time, companies are reconsidering their strategies and initiating implementation processes (selling off non-core assets, bringing in new capital). Particularly active sectors continue to be infrastructure, energy, healthcare and chemicals.”

Sophie Mathur, Asia Head of Corporate based in Singapore:

“Public M&A deal activity remains robust in Asia, as indicated by the analysis of deal volume. Looking at the Southeast Asia region in particular, Linklaters tops the M&A league tables both by value and deal count based on Mergermarket rankings for Q1 2024. Anticipating the remainder of the year, we foresee continued interest as strategic investors are actively exploring strategic acquisitions in the region, despite ongoing economic volatility. We are starting to see slower-growth regions, like Europe and the US, eye up targets across the Asia Pacific region. Sectors like digital infrastructure, healthcare and financial services continue to be of interest to investors.”

Iain Fenn, Corporate Partner based in the UK:

“It has been a busy first quarter for UK public M&A. There is momentum in the market with a significant increase in £1 billion plus bids. There is also an increase in competitive situations after a quieter year for competing bids in 2023. Non-UK bidders and financial sponsors continue to show a keen interest in UK public companies. This interest is driving activity as well as UK buyers seeking consolidation opportunities. Well-capitalised companies, having deferred strategic moves during the past year, are now actively seeking opportunities. Financial sponsors and sovereign wealth funds continue to have substantial capital at their disposal and are under increasing pressure to deploy available funds. Whilst predicting the outlook of this market remains challenging, the analysis from Q1 sets an optimistic tone for an increasingly busy 2024.”

Linklaters has a market leading global corporate platform which is consistently recognised as the leading practice for advice on all aspects of high-end M&A and other corporate activity. The firm has extensive experience advising on all aspects of public M&A.

In 2023, despite a market slowdown, Linklaters advised on $133bn in deals according to Refinitiv, marking it one of the top firms for M&A across the UK and Europe. The firm has continued to demonstrate its market strength by topping Refinitiv’s rankings for both UK and European M&A (completed deals) for Q1 of 2024. Linklaters have advised on some of the largest deals so far in 2024, including:

1. Linklaters advises Barratt Developments plc on its recommended all-share offer for Redrow plc

2. Linklaters advises Mondi plc in connection with its possible all-share combination with DS Smith plc

3. Linklaters advises Carrier Global Corporation on the sale of its Industrial Fire business for US$1.425bn


*This analysis has been pulled together using LSEG Workspace