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M&A set for record year as companies eye Covid recovery

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Source: baona/Getty Images/iStockphoto.

An abundance of low-cost finance and soaring stock market valuations are driving M&A towards record levels. Equity investors have welcomed strategic deals, private equity has more dry powder to put to work and Spacs are the new kids on the block hunting for acquisitions. But as M&A fever spreads, so riskier deals based on more dubious logic are appearing.

Through the lockdowns and great recession of 2020, the world’s leading investment banks were big winners, benefiting from tidy increases both in trading revenues and fees for arranging equity and debt financing.

Full year earnings announcements tell the story. At JPMorgan, for example, fixed income, currencies and commodities markets revenues were 45% higher in 2020 than in 2019; equities revenues were up 33% and investment banking fees rose 25%.

The corporate and investment bank unit increased its return on equity (ROE) from 14% in 2019 to 20% in 2020, compensating for the retail bank where ROE went the opposite way, falling from 31% in 2019 to 15% in 2020.

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Peter Lee is Editorial Director. He joined Euromoney straight from Oxford University in 1985, and has written about banking and capital markets ever since, being appointed editor in 1999. He became editorial director of Euromoney in May 2005.
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