Under normal circumstances, the news, announced Friday, of the merger of two enormous industrial companies founded in the 19th century would be one of the biggest business stories of the year. But these aren’t typical times in the mergers and acquisitions world.
M&A activity is set to hit a record in 2015, with several factors driving the trend, including historically low borrowing costs, collapsing energy and commodities prices, consolidations in the healthcare industry in the Obamacare era, and a drive to boost profits amid a slowing global economy. Companies are merging or gobbling up rivals at an unprecedented pace.
The marriage proposal between American industrial giants DuPont and Dow Chemical is the latest deal to hit the headlines, and it isn’t even the biggest of 2015 in dollar terms. A preliminary estimate from Dealogic values the all-stock deal at $68.6 billion, well below the biggest acquisition of the year: U.S. drugmaker Pfizer’s $160 billion bid for Irish rival Allergan. And while the final value of a Dow-DuPont merger could rise, as these deals often do, it’s unlikely to surpass other acquisitions this year involving brewer Anheuser-Busch, oil and gas behemoth Royal Dutch Shell, and cable company Charter Communications.
With less than a month to go, 2015 has seen $4.75 trillion worth of M&A activity, the highest on record, beating the last record set in 2007, when $4.61 trillion worth of deals were logged, according to the latest data from Dealogic, which tracks global corporate acquisitions. Dealogic estimates that M&A activity has topped $4 trillion only in these two calendar years.
In the number of deals done, 2015 isn’t even close to a record high, suggesting that this year has been marked by more megadeals than usual. As of Friday, 37,431 mergers or acquisitions had been announced, well below the 45,347 deals announced in 2011. The number of deals has topped 40,000 on six occasions, all of them since 2007.
This year's deal activity has been a boon to top financial advisers Goldman Sachs Group, J.P. Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, which have handled more than $4.5 trillion worth of deals globally in 2015, according to Dealogic.
Michigan-based Dow Chemical Co. (NYSE:DOW) shares slid 3.17 percent to $53.17 by mid-day trading in New York on Friday. Stock in Delaware-based E. I. Du Pont De Nemours and Co. (NYSE:DD), as DuPont is formally known, fell 4.83 percent to $70.96.