The M&A market is waiting out Obama: Morgan Stanley’s Kindler

Mergers and acquisitions activity may not pick up until President Barack Obama leaves the Oval Office, Robert Kindler, head of M&A at Morgan Stanley, said Monday.

According to Dealogic, $481 billion in previously announced dealmaking has been sidelined. This follows a record year for global M&A in 2015, when activity topped $5 trillion for the first time.

Kindler said it's probably not fair to compare 2016 activity to last year's historic levels, which were driven by very large deals. But he said tough regulations have played a significant role in the decline in dealmaking.

"That's part of why the deals are lower now. I think people are just waiting for a change in sentiment in Washington," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

The $28 billion marriage of oilfield services giants Baker Hughes and Halliburton was doomed to fail in the current environment, he said. The Justice Department opposed the merger, saying it would reduce competition in the industry.

Under Obama, the Treasury also issued new tax rules that torpedoed the $160 billion merger of pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Allergan. The regulations expanded the administration's effort to prevent companies from merging in order to move their headquarters to more favorable tax domiciles.

While M&A markets have historically hoped for a Republican win in general elections, any change in the White House this year would be an improvement, Kindler said.

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