123RF

Investment bankers enjoyed a record 2020 with both equity and debt issuance hitting new heights, according to new data from Refinitiv.

Global equity capital markets generated US$1.1 trillion in deal activity last year, the highest total on record and a 56% jump from the previous year.

There were more than 6,100 equity offerings during the year, which was also an all-time high, up 33% from 2019.

Secondary offerings raised US$663.1 billion during the year, as deal activity jumped by 72%.

The global market for initial public offerings was also strong, with IPO activity (excluding SPACs) rising by 25% to US$222.3 billion.

At the same time, the global debt markets also hit record levels, with total issuance reaching US$10.2 trillion, up by 31% year over year.

Refinitiv also noted that the number of debt offerings surpassed 25,000 for the first time.

Investment grade corporate debt accounted for US$4.8 trillion worth of the total, up 22% from the previous year.

Global high yield debt activity reached US$547.4 billion, an increase of 34% from 2019.

Additionally, green bonds hit record levels in 2020, with US$222.2 billion in new issuance.

“Bolstered by the emergence of sustainability and social bonds, annual debt issuance from agency, sovereign and supranational issuers totalled a record US$2.9 trillion, up 55% from a year ago,” Refinitiv said.

While both debt and equity issuance surged to all-time highs, global M&A activity slipped by 5% in 2020, after a record second half bailed out a weak start to the year.

Global M&A totalled US$3.6 trillion in the year, with US$2.3 trillion of that coming in the second half.

The tech sector led the way in M&A activity, with US$679.2 billion in deals, up 49% from 2019.

At the top of the underwriter league tables, the global rankings remained essentially unchanged.

Goldman Sachs led the equity tables, followed by Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan BofA and Citi.

On the debt side, JP Morgan was the top firm, trailed by Citi, and BofA, with Barclays and Morgan Stanley rounding out the top five.