Astra Megadeal Helps Europe M&A Soar Past 2019 to $1.2 Trillion

For Europe’s dealmakers, the comeback is all but complete.

Companies in the region have now announced $1.2 trillion of deals this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s up 6% from the same period in 2019, as the rush of mergers and acquisitions over the past few weeks helps bankers put the pandemic-ravaged first half firmly behind them.

With just one full business week of the year to go, the chances of it finishing ahead of 2019 were boosted over the weekend by the announcement of U.K.-based AstraZeneca Plc’s $39 billion cash-and-stock takeover of Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. The deal means it’s already the strongest fourth quarter for European transaction volumes since 2006, the data show.

Astra Megadeal Helps Europe M&A Soar Past 2019 to $1.2 Trillion

Landmark transactions already announced this quarter include Cellnex Telecom SA’s biggest-ever purchase, a takeover of CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd.’s European wireless towers for around 10 billion euros ($12.1 billion). In November, RSA Insurance Group Plc accepted a 7.2 billion-pound ($9.6 billion) offer from Canada’s Intact Financial Corp. and Danish insurer Tryg A/S -- the largest acquisition of a U.K.-listed company this year.

The flurry of transactions continued Monday, with private equity firm EQT AB saying it will buy Swedish drugmaker Recipharm AB for about $2.1 billion. The billionaire family behind A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S agreed to acquire Danish food company Faerch A/S for 1.9 billion euros, while Electronic Arts Inc. topped a rival suitor and reached a deal to take over Codemasters Group Holdings Plc for 945 million pounds.

The lead over 2019’s total could stretch yet further in the coming days. Dirk Albersmeier, JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s co-head of global mergers and acquisitions, said in a Bloomberg Television interview this month that bankers should expect a busy Christmas period with deals getting struck across all regions and sectors.

Wall Street firms will again dominate the advisory rankings in Europe, the Bloomberg data show. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is the number one M&A bank in the region this year, followed by Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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