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That was the year that was

Bankers are nothing if not excellent at spinning events to their advantage: 2018 was no exception…

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“ Well, that was great, wasn’t it? Yes, there was the geopolitics – trade and protectionism, Brexit, Italy, Russia, China, France (a late addition that one and somewhat surprisingly, perhaps, as it turned out that an investment banker would not seek to govern as a man of the people) – and every region and every time zone had its own events driving markets and sentiment.

And always in the frame, tiny-handed Trump and his Twitter-finger.

But no matter. The US was in growth mode. Employment looked rosy. The dollar repatriation amnesty was adding another cylinder to the engine. Equity markets were robust, companies and lenders were flush with liquidity.

Boardrooms – the savvy ones – knew that with great share price strength came great responsibility, to show growth organically or through acquisitions. If not, your equity was liable to be rerated before too long.

Sponsors, finding themselves head-to-head with the strategic bid more often than not, had to catch up. Activism, continuing to jump the Atlantic to rise in Europe as never before, added another frisson.

And so it played out in the data: global announced M&A at record levels.

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