mergers and acquisitions

A new survey of corporate dealmakers finds them cautious on the outlook for global M&A in the year ahead.

Financial data firm Refinitiv has reported that its latest survey of dealmakers found that they expect global deal volume to remain essentially unchanged in 2019, as they predict a 0.2% dip in deal activity from last year.

Refinitiv surveyed 470 M&A professionals — including investment bankers, M&A lawyers, and other finance and corporate executives — from November 2018 through January. The firm reported that competitive pressure and fears about a possible market downturn were seen as the primary considerations driving dealmaking. The risk of recession, and fears about trade protectionism, were seen as the biggest concerns for dealmakers.

“With the macroeconomic landscape changing over the last twelve months, the risks to deal-making have become clearer,” Matthew Toole, director of deals intelligence at Refinitiv, said in a statement.

“Trade tensions in the U.S., political upheaval in Europe with Brexit and increasing protectionism on a global scale are having an effect on sentiment in the M&A market,” Toole said. “As we enter the sixth year of the most recent cycle for deal making, it is clear that expectations are muted as levels of confidence shift around the world.”

By sector, healthcare, energy, power and commodities were seen as the areas where M&A growth is most likely. Conversely, the industrial and real estate sectors were seen as the least ripe for deal activity.

In terms of geography, respondents were most optimistic in the Asia-Pacific area, where they forecasted a 2.4% increase in M&A activity. Respondents in Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) expected deal activity to drop by 2.0% from 2018.