"I did think sitting here that it would be a great year for M&A and it ended up being a flat year," he said. "It's hard to know. I think part of it is there's been uncertainties in the market, but part of it was that the market really ran this year. The market ran, but CEOs and managements hadn't really changed their view of the world, so valuations got out of whack."
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M&A activity reached an eight-year low in 2013 and dipped below the dot-com levels of 13 years ago, falling by 6.2 percent from 2012, according to Ernst & Young. This year's decline came despite a flurry of megadeals, including Vodafone's agreement to sell its stake in Verizon back to the U.S. wireless carrier for $130 billion, the third-largest corporate deal in history.
Because of uncertainty in the markets, corporate leaders were reluctant to take on debt to complete deals, Kindler said, even with ultralow interest rates.