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Via FactSet Mergers staff

U.S. M&A deal activity increased in March, climbing 5.1% with 998 announcements compared to 950 in February. Aggregate M&A spending increased as well. In March 65.2% more was spent on deals compared to February.

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Over the past three months, the sectors that have seen the biggest increases in M&A deal activity, relative to the same three month period one year ago, have been

  1. Technology Services (524 vs. 409)
  2. Finance (379 vs. 361)
  3. Consumer Services (241 vs. 228)
  4. Consumer Non-Durables (90 vs. 78)
  5. Distribution Services (153 vs. 142).

Twelve of the 21 sectors tracked by FactSet Mergerstat posted relative gains in deal flow over the last three months compared to the same three months one year prior.

Over the past three months, the sectors that have seen the biggest declines in M&A deal volume, relative to the same three month period one year ago have been

  1. Industrial Services (100 vs. 137)
  2. Commercial Services (493 vs. 513)
  3. Producer Manufacturing (172 vs. 186)
  4. Consumer Durables (36 vs. 48)
  5. Electronic Technology (120 vs. 131)
  6. Health Services (137 vs. 148).

Nine of the 21 sectors tracked by FactSet Mergerstat posted negative relative losses in deal flow over the last three months compared to the same three months one year prior, for a combined loss of 116 deals.

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Topping the list of the largest deals announced in March are:

  1. H.J. Heinz Co., jointly owned by 3G Capital Partners Ltd and Berkshire Hathaway Inc, agreeing to acquire Kraft Foods Group, Inc. for $45.8 billion
  2. AbbVie, Inc. entering an agreement to acquire Pharmacyclics, Inc. for $19.9 billion
  3. OptumRx, Inc., ultimately owned by UnitedHealth Group, Inc., agreeing to acquire Catamaran Corp. for $12.8 billion
  4. NXP Semiconductors NV's agreement to acquire Freescale Semiconductor Ltd. for $11.1 billion
  5. Charter Communications, Inc.'s agreement to acquire Bright House Networks LLC from Advance Publications, Inc. for $10.6 billion

U.S. private equity activity increased in March, up 5.0% from February. There were 106 deals in March compared to 101 in February. Aggregate base equity also increased, up by 447.5% to $28.6 billion from February's $5.2 billion.

Canadian firms were the biggest buyers of U.S. companies in March. They announced 16 deals for the month, with U.K. companies in second with 14 deals, followed by Japan, Australia, and France. The largest deal to purchase a U.S. business was Netherlands-based NXP Semiconductors NV's agreement to acquire Freescale Semiconductor Ltd. for $11.1 billion. Canadian firms were the biggest sellers to U.S. firms with 35 deals, followed by the U.K., Australia, and Netherlands. The largest U.S. deal to acquire a foreign company was Verisk Analytics, Inc. agreeing to acquire the U.K.- based Wood Mackenzie Ltd. for $2.8 billion.

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The top financial advisors for 2015 based on deal announcements, are Goldman Sachs & Co., Bank of America Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Morgan Stanley, and Houlihan Lokey. The top five financial advisors, based on the aggregate transaction value of the deals worked on, are JPMorgan Chase & Co, Lazard, Morgan Stanley, Centerview Partners LLC, and Goldman Sachs & Co.

The top legal advisors for 2015 based on deal announcements, are Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Jones Day LP, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, Fenwick & West LLP, and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. The top five legal advisors, based on the aggregate transaction value of the deals worked on, are Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, and Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP.

FactSet Flashwire Monthly Report

Download the full report for more, including:

  • Key trend information for the Overall and Middle M&A Markets, such as deal volume, deal value, mega-deals, leading buyers, leading industries, leading sectors, cross-border deals, U.S. regional deals, average P/E, average premiums, payment methods, and much more
  • Report on U.S. Sector Activity and Value
  • U.S. Strategic Buyer Report and U.S. Private Equity Report 
  • Leading financial and legal advisor rankings

Download most recent FactSet U.S. Flashwire Monthly report.

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