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Global M&A activity remains on track for record-breaking year

Dealmaking is set to overtake previous all-time highs, fuelled by returning optimism, pent up demand and investors flush with cash.

Global acquirers are on track to record their first annual market outperformance since 2016, according to latest results from Willis Towers Watson’s Quarterly Deal Performance Monitor (QDPM). Companies making M&A deals have on average outperformed the World Index1 by +2.3pp (percentage points) during the first nine months of 2021, boosted in particular by strong performances in the first two quarters.

Deal volume in the last three months is the second highest recorded for a third quarter, with 264 deals over $100m in value completed in Q3 20212, and more than double the volume of M&A deals compared to the corresponding quarter in 2020. At this pace, with 748 deals completed so far this year, total M&A activity for 2021 could overtake the all-time high of 1041 completed deals recorded in 2015, according to data compiled by Willis Towers Watson and the M&A Research Centre at The Bayes Business School (formerly Cass).

The surge in deals has primarily been driven by a sharp rise in activity by North American buyers, responsible for more than half of all deals completed globally during Q3 2021.

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