M&A activity on the European market increased in 2018, despite the overall number of deals being made falling. The value of mergers and acquisitions deals on the European market reached 929.3 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, which marked a slight increase in comparison to 2017, but still a notable decline compared to the heights seen during 2007. Cross-border activity is very important for European M&A, with some countries attributing around 90 percent of M&A deals to come through cross-border acquisitions by 2021. The United Kingdom (UK) is the second most attractive target country globally for acquiring companies in terms of deal volume.
The process of merging two companies together or acquiring a different company is typically executed in a multi-step fashion. Therefore, such deals are usually managed by leading financial advisory companies. On the European market, Goldman Sachs was the leading financial advisor for M&A transactions, with almost 460 billion U.S. dollars in deal value in 2018. Legal advisors also play an important role in the M&A process. As of 2017, Slaughter and May was ranked as the leading legal advisor firm for M&A transactions in the United Kingdom, consulting on deals with an aggregate value of approximately 126 billion British pounds.
On the Central and Eastern European market, the number of merger and acquisition deals reached over two thousand in 2018, which marked a slight decrease compared to the previous year. When looking closely at sectors, the real estate and construction industries noted the highest levels of activity, with 432 successful deals, followed by manufacturing with 285 deals in 2018. The largest deal noted on that market in 2018 was the acquisition of Liberty Global Operations for Hungary, Czechia and Romania, for over six billion euros.
To dive deeper into M&A deal making and valuations, or to gain perspective on a global level you can read our DossierPlus deep dives on the topic.