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Wednesday, 5 January, 2000, 19:15 GMT
Record year for mergers

handshake The UK topped the European merger table in 1999


The first year of the new millennium is expected to break the record set in 1999 for mergers and acquisitions, according to investment bankers.

Final figures from Thomson Financial Securities Data show the volume of European deals completed last year reached $764bn (478bn), up 40% on 1998.

Among the European markets, the United Kingdom at $242bn maintained a significant lead over Germany, with deals worth $87bn and France with $86bn.

European activity during the fourth quarter of 1999 reached $261bn out of a total $779bn worldwide.

"Based on the level of activity so far and what we have in the pipeline, we see another very strong year ahead. It will be a very healthy M&A market," said Dan Dickenson, head of European M&A at Merrill Lynch.

Merrill Lynch was in third place in the Securities Data league tables of advisers, with completed deals worth $226bn last year.

Merrill was one of three US investment banks which dominated European merger activity.

Goldman Sachs was top of the table for European completed deals - confirming preliminary figures from Securities Data.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter was in second place.

The three firms topped the league tables of worldwide announced deals - which have yet to be completed or gain regulatory approval - in the same order as for European completed deals.

All three firms play a key role in the on-going battle between the UK's Vodafone AirTouch and Germany's Mannesmann, which was not included in the Securities Data figures for completed deals.

Telecoms hot spot

Of the top 10 deals completed globally during 1999, half involved European target companies, with Olivetti's hostile bid for Telecom Italia still seen as a landmark transaction.

Telecoms deals were worth more than $100bn, with financial services at $91bn, Securities Data said.

Mr Dickenson expects telecommunications and financial institutions sectors to see most of the action during 2000, but he also expects further activity in the energy and power sectors as well as increasing technology mergers.

He is bullish about the prospects for Germany, France and Italy in 2000 and expects to see continuing restructuring among larger companies as well as consolidation among middle-sized German firms.

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See also:
28 Dec 99 |  Business
The insatiable merger appetite
23 Dec 99 |  Business
Vodafone unveils 83bn bid
29 Nov 99 |  Business
'Most international mergers fail'

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