Commentary: Looking back to 2008 says deal year will feel like 2003
There is scant evidence of new year cheer for deal lawyers surveying the year ahead, even though figures from Legal Week's exclusive data provider Mergermarket illustrate that deal activity has fallen less than the business headlines of late would suggest.The broad picture for M&A in 2008 was clear: despite the credit squeeze paralysing activity from private equity bidders, overall M&A held up well in the first half of the year. This picture of resilience, however, did not survive the chaos unleashed by the collapse of Lehman Brothers. So while the total number of announced bids in Europe exceeded 1,500 in both the first and second quarter of 2008, by the fourth quarter, that number had dwindled to 786, according to Mergermarket. Overall that leaves 2008 roughly on par with a solid year like 2005. But expectations that the conditions we have seen in the fourth quarter will be repeated through the coming year suggests that M&A activity in 2009 in major regions will be in line with the deal drought of 2002 and 2003.
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