So far, this has been a record year for mergers and acquisitions on both sides of the Atlantic, much higher than 2006. Among the takeover targets, the Dutch bank ABN Amro, subject to overtures from Royal Bank of Scotland, offering 71 billion euros and Barclays prepared to pay 61 billion.
This comes after several lean years in terms of merger and acquisition activity, as explained to EuroNews by Rene Proglio, the head of investment bank Morgan Stanley in France: “In the financial world there was a major peak in the years 1999 and 2000, followed by a massive fall in the early part of the new century – 2001/2002 – when there nothing. The activity picked up in 2005 and 2006 was a historic year when we reached the same levels as 2001. 2007 is probably going to be better than 2006.”
The number of mergers in the first half of this year is up by 53 compared with the same period last year. They totalled 785 billion euros in the United States and were nearly as high in Europe at 780 billion euros.
Rene Proglio said: “Investment funds and private equity firms, which first appeared in the United States, and which have led to the market developing very strongly in the US, are now here in Europe and are progressively moving into eastern Europe.”
And bankers believe that with record high stock market levels, relatively cheap borrowing costs and the private equity firms awash with cash activity should be high until the middle of next year.