1. Cross-border M&A activity made up 39% of all deal value and 34% of all deal volume in Q4 2016.
  2. Deals from North America into the EU were the big story, with US$98.8bn spent on 185 deals, including the largest deal of the quarter.
  3. China continued its strong outbound deal activity with 92 deals worth US$48.6bn.
  4. Australia was the third most-active buyer in Asia-Pacific by value (after Japan and China), with 31 deals worth US$20bn.

All eyes were on the United States in Q4 2016 as Donald Trump was elected president, following a contentious campaign season. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the results, the US was the biggest acquirer of the quarter, spending US$121.5bn on 299 deals.
This was reflected at a regional level, with the EU accounting for 81% of North American acquisitions by value, by far its biggest target. Deals included substantial PE deals targeting Germany, with three valued at more than US$1bn. The largest US-EU deal – and top deal of the quarter – was the acquisition of Netherlands-based NXP Semiconductors by US-based semiconductors company Qualcomm, for US$45.9bn. The largest inbound US deal came from Ireland, with aircraft leasing company Avolon Holdings acquiring the CIT Commercial Air leasing business from CIT Group in New Jersey for US$10bn. 

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Asia looks outwards

Asia Pacific remained a strong performer for the quarter, as buyers pursued 203 cross-regional deals worth a total of US$93.9bn. This represented 23% (volume) and 29% (value) of all cross-regional activity for the quarter.

Four of the top ten global cross-border deal values this quarter came from Asia-Pacific transactions. These include the acquisition of US-based audio products and electronic systems specialists Harman International Industries by South Korea’s Samsung Electronics for US$8.7bn, and the purchase of a 25.01% stake in American hospitality company Hilton Worldwide Holdings from Blackstone Group by Chinese conglomerate HNA Tourism Group, for US$6.5bn.

Outbound activity from Asia-Pacific has continued to be driven by China. The year saw a record number of cross-border deals (393) valued at an equally record-breaking US$215bn. This is a dramatic increase on 2015. Year-on-year, deal value was up 100% while volume rose by 25%. The largest cross-border deal of the year saw the China National Chemical Corporation buy Swiss agribusiness company Syngenta for US$45.8bn in February. In the fourth quarter, there were 92 deals valued at US$48.6bn – up 4.5% and 25.5% respectively on Q3. The largest cross-border deal of the quarter was the aforementioned HNA/Hilton stake. 

Down under moves up

Australia also made waves in Asia-Pacific this quarter, with deals in Europe and the US. It was the third-most active buyer in the region by value, with 31 deals worth a total of US$20bn. A healthy percentage of the country’s outbound value was taken up by the quarter’s third largest acquisition, a 61% stake in National Grid Gas Distribution from National Grid plc in the UK. The deal, worth US$14.5bn, was led by a consortium composed of Australian investment bank Macquarie Infrastructure, China Investment Corporation and the Qatar Investment Authority, among others.