Mergers & acquisitions (M&A) activity has surpassed $2.2 trillion for the first year since 2007 and it could be still busier in the coming year, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Investors and analysts said the strong sentiment was buoyed by positive market reactions to many deals this year, record cash piles, cheap debt and the necessity to outpace sluggish economic growth.

In 2010, the value of worldwide M&A rose 19 percent to $2.25 trillion, with the emerging markets making up 17 percent of transactions with energy and power being the busiest sector, according to the report.

M&A at the emerging markets totaled a record $378 billion, while developed markets lagged. Global M&A rose 19 percent, while the activity in the United States grew 11 percent. European deals climbed 5 percent.

Energy and power was the year's busiest sector with deals rising about 40 percent to $482 billion, followed by the financial and basic materials sectors.

The top two deal advisers in 2010 were Goldman Sachs ($513.1 billion) and Morgan Stanley ($499.5 billion).

According to Morgan Stanley, 2011 could witness a bigger rise in M&A activity. We feel M&A volumes will improve next year, there's certainly going to be more cross-border activity than ever, and Asia - again - will be a bigger part of the equation, Scott Matlock, chairman of international M&A at Morgan Stanley, said.

Agrees Deutsche Bank's global head of M&A Henrik Aslaksen. The increase in M&A activity in 2011 should exceed that of 2010, Aslaksen said. Deutsche Bank is the world's fifth-busiest deal adviser.

Executives, bankers, big investors such as Schroders, and analysts at banks including Credit Suisse, Nomura, and Societe Generale are also predicting a further rise.

A recent Thomson Reuters/Freeman survey has revealed that senior executives on average expect $3 trillion of M&A next year.