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Corporate lawyers idled by the dearth of corporate dealmaking may soon be back to the grindstone, according to a new study projecting an uptick in mergers and acquisitions during the second half of the year. Thirty-two percent of respondents to the Association for Corporate Growth-Thomson Reuters Mid-Year 2008 DealMakers Survey expect M&A transactions to rise during the second half of 2008, while 39 percent expect no change and 28 percent expect further declines. Worldwide M&A volume hit a record $1.6 trillion in the first half of 2007 and plunged 36 percent in the first half of 2008. Middle-market transactions worth less than $500 million proved more resilient, with transactions dropping only 18.2 percent during the same time frame. Cross-border deals also remain popular. According to 48 percent of respondents, the best investment opportunities are in the United States, followed by China (12 percent); Latin America (8 percent); India (7 percent); and Eastern Europe (6 percent). Buyers and sellers are increasingly seeking foreign deal partners, said Dennis J. White, ACG vice chairman and Boston partner at McDermott, Will & Emery. “The U.S. downturn and depressed dollar make everything from New York condos to U.S. companies seem like bargains to foreign buyers,” White said. “Conversely, U.S. buyers are drawn to the attractive upside opportunities and less competitive investment environment that prevails in many markets overseas.” Respondents to the June 2008 survey included 542 ACG members and Thomson Reuters customers. Respondents included investment bankers, private equity professionals, corporate development executives, lawyers, accountants and consultants.

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