The number of companies weighing up a takeover or merger worth over $1 billion has more than doubled in the past six months, a new EY study finds, as firms opt for "quality rather than quantity".
More than one in 10 firms plan to make merger and acquisition (M&A) deals over $1 billion, while 27 percent intend to engage in deals worth half a billion dollars, up from 12 percent the year before, EY's Capital confidence barometer showed.
After several years of very low volume and value M&A activity following the 2007-8 financial crisis, 2014 has already seen some big-ticket deals, with Facebook's $16 billion acquisition of WhatsApp at the top. Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten also said it February that it will buy voice call and messaging app Viber in a $900 million deal.
While almost a third of the 1,600 senior executives surveyed online by EY expect their deal pipeline to increase over the next year, this could see total M&A volumes flat as companies look to make selective acquisitions.
Read More Bitcoin: The future of M&A deals?
"Value not volume will be making headlines in the near-future, with prominent large deals part of an emerging trend – in 2014 we have seen a 25 percent increase in deal value but an 11 percent fall in volume globally," Pip McCrostie, EY's global vice-chair of Transaction Advisory Services, said in a press release.
"After a prolonged financial crisis and M&A market malaise, companies and boards are opting for quality rather than quantity."