Yesterday afternoon, Dealogic announced for the first time in history, global announced M&A volume in 2015 would surpass $5 trillion. This record eclipses by 9% the previous all time high of $4.6 trillion set during the previous market bubble year of 2007.
The report adds that there were 10 $50 billion M&A transactions announced in 2015 worth a combined $798.9bn. That’s five deals more than the previous record high activity set in 1998, 1999, and 2014. US targeted M&A ($2.5tr) accounts for half of 2015 volume and seven of the top 10 transactions.
Breaking down by total by sector, Healthcare ($723.7bn) and Technology ($713.1bn) were the leading sectors. The biggest deals announced in 2015 were Pfizer and Allergan’s pending $160bn merger, followed by Anheuser-Busch InBev’s $117.4bn bid for SABMiller, two of only eight $100bn+ transactions announced on record.
Below we show the table of the Top 10 deals is below, as well as a simplified chart:
Many have debated what has unleashed this unprecedented merger frenzy, even if the answer is simple: record low costs of debt have been used by management teams not only as a source of funding for record buybacks (pushing the acquiror’s stock as a merger “currency” to all time highs), but also to fund ever greater portions of the merger consideration. The result are M&A EV/EBITDA multiples in the high teens, 20s, and even 30s (or higher) as hundreds of billions of investment grade debt have been issued to fund “financial engineering”, be it buybacks or M&A, just not prefunding future revenue growth via spending on CapEx.
As the following chart from BofA shows, just over the next few months there is at least half a trillion in in deals that have to be funded with investment grade debt: for the sake of these management teams, they better pray that the IG market does not suffer a comparable shut down as what happened to the junk bond market over the past two months.