European mergers soar to $261bn record

European merger and acquisition activity hit an all time high in the last three months of 1999, with the value of deals completed almost doubling compared to the previous quarter.

Figures published by Thomson Financial Securities Data show a record fourth quarter for M&A activity.

Europe completed deals with a combined value of $261bn compared with $132bn in the previous three months.

The UK was by far the largest single market in Europe, recording $242bn against Germany’s $87bn and France’s $86bn.

The European market for the year totalled $764bn, up 40 per cent on the previous year, with the continent doing one third of all M&A deals worldwide.

Top corporate finance lawyer Jeremy Brownlow, a partner at Clifford Chance, says: “I think it is indicative of increasing cross-border corporate activity within Europe – and its more than likely to continue.”

Europe saw three of the world’s five largest deals announced in the final quarter of the year, including the biggest deal of all time – Vodafone AirTouch’s $148bn hostile offer for Mannesmann.