Another Market Topping Sign: M&A Deals Failing At Highest Rate Since 2008

In yet another potential market topping sign, M&A Deals Fail At Highest Rate Since 2008

The value of deals that fail to complete has reached its highest level since 2008, in the latest sign that the best year for mergers and acquisitions since the financial crisis will also feature a number of high-profile failures.

Three large deals collapsed last week, adding to the list of wrecked deals and coinciding with a sharp jump in equity market volatility that sapped confidence in stocks and put a chill on the market for initial public offerings.

The biggest blow to dealmaking prospects came as US pharmaceutical group AbbVie unexpectedly dropped its support for a $55bn takeover of UK rival Shire. The sudden U-turn has undermined the prevailing belief among bankers that a US Treasury crackdown on deals that allow US companies to lower their tax obligations by moving abroad would have little impact.

So-called tax inversions have featured prominently in this year’s resurgent M&A market accounting for at least a dozen deals. But the chances of Pfizer, the US pharma company, reviving its $120bn pursuit of the UK’s AstraZeneca have been greatly diminished as a result of AbbVie’s decision, several people close to the situation recently told the Financial Times, casting doubt on the year’s biggest withdrawn deal returning.

A total of $573bn worth of deals have been withdrawn, setting this year up to surpass the $640bn in deals that went uncompleted in 2008, according to Dealogic.

Bruce Embley, partner at Freshfields, said: “It’s slightly unusual to have an M&A cliff coming without also seeing an adverse impact on equity capital markets. So I wonder if we look back on this moment as an anomaly or whether it is the start of something more volatile.”

Deals Withdrawn or Doubtful

Mike “Mish” Shedlock