Global M&A activity tumbles to 3-year low as Trump’s trade war rages

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Jason Lee/Reuters

  • Global mergers and acquisitions totaled $729 billion in the third quarter of 2019, falling 16% from the same period last year and hitting the lowest quarterly volume since 2016 , according to data compiled by Refinitiv.
  • Dealmaking in the US fell even further, tumbling 40% from last year to $246 billion in the third quarter.
  • Ongoing threats to economic growth including the US-China trade war have likely caused executives and corporations to pull back on dealmaking.
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Global merger and acquisition volume plunged in third quarter as the US-China trade war continued to cloud the global economic outlook.

Total global M&A sunk 16% year-over-year to $729 billion in the third quarter, posting its lowest quarterly volume since 2016, according to data compiled by Refinitiv. Merger activity in the US saw its lowest quarterly volume since 2014, falling 40% from the same period last year to $246 billion.

Dealmaking in Asia also tumbled 20% to $160 billion – the lowest level of activity since 2017 – as Hong Kong’s role as a global financial hub was threatened by weeks of pro-democracy protests, according to Reuters.

Activity levels in Europe stood in sharp contrast to other parts of the world, with M&A volume jumping more then 45% to $249 billion, according to Refinitiv.

The global slowdown in dealmaking came as companies have been assessing the economic backdrop in the face of the US-China trade war and other headwinds. The economic uncertainty stemming from trade war likely overshadowed the low cost of debt financing for acquisitions, according to a report from Reuters.

Several large deals were also called off in the third quarter, including the $200 billion merger of tobacco giants Philip Morris International and Altria Group.

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