Global mergers and acquisitions (M&A) had their strongest start ever in the first quarter of 2018, totaling $1.2 trillion in value, as U.S. tax reform and faster economic growth in Europe unleashed many companies' dealmaking instincts.
Strong equity and debt markets and swelling corporate cash coffers also helped boost the confidence of chief executives, convincing them that now is as good a time as ever to pursue transformative mergers, dealmakers said.
"The clarity on tax has unclogged some of the M&A activity that was strategically imperative, but companies were waiting for the right financial timing," said Anu Aiyengar, head of North America M&A at JPMorgan Chase & Co.
While the value of M&A deals globally increased 67 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018, the number of deals dropped by 10 percent to 10,338, preliminary Thomson Reuters data show, reflecting how deals on average are getting bigger.
Among the largest deals clinched this quarter were U.S. health insurer Cigna Corp's $67 billion deal to acquire U.S. pharmacy chain Express Scripts Holding Co and German utility E.ON SE's $38.5 billion deal to acquire RWE AG's renewable energy business Innogy SE.