This is set to be a "very strong" year mergers and acquisitions, one of the world's best-known dealmakers has told CNBC.
The U.S. will be a particularly strong market for M&A, John Studzinski, senior managing director at The Blackstone Group, told CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
"A lot has changed in the past few years," he said. "Shareholder activism is going to continue to drive a lot of this, primarily through divestures and restructuring."
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Kasper Rorsted, chief executive of Henkel, one of Europe's largest consumer goods companies, confirmed that shareholders were pressing for more deals, although "they want us to spend it wisely".
Together with Blackstone, Studzinski has put together deals including the restructuring of bailed-out U.S. insurer American Insurance Group.
Businesses have been rebuilding their balance sheets in the U.S. in the past couple of years, fueled by the U.S. Federal Reserve's asset purchasing program. There is now more optimism about the U.S.'s economic recovery after better jobs figures and faster growth in gross domestic product (GDP). Studzinski forecast growth of around 3 percent for the U.S. this year.
A number of deals have already been announced this year, including Japanese company Suntory's $16 billion takeover of U.S. spirit maker Beam, and cable company Charter's bid for Time Warner Cable.
- By CNBC's Catherine Boyle. Twitter: @cboylecnbc.