Dealmaking in 2016 could surpass this year's record-breaking levels as acquisitions of distressed assets and companies accelerate, particularly in the energy sector, Robert Profusek, partner and chair of the global mergers and acquisitions practice at international law firm Jones Day, said Thursday.
Annual global mergers and acquisitions volume surpassed $5 trillion for the first time ever, data released by Dealogic earlier this week showed.
That volume was driven by big, transformational deals across industries, Profusek said. While that trend will continue to some degree next year, non-investment-grade dealmaking will pick up significantly, he added.
"Next year we're going to add to it a lot of distressed M&A, a lot of shotgun weddings, a lot of merge-to-survive kinds of things, and particularly, but not limited to, the oil patch," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box."
Dealmaking in the energy sector slowed to a trickle in 2015 as financial markets remained wide open to struggling drillers at the start of the year, helping them to weather a downturn that has cut the price of oil by two-thirds.
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At the same time potential sellers have been reluctant to offload assets at fire sale prices in the hopes that prices will recover. But despite a few brief periods of reprieve, the rout has only accelerated, threatening to plunge U.S. crude below $30 a barrel.