Global M&A activity saw fewer but higher value transactions in the first half of 2019 (H1 2019), with total deal values increasing by 19% from the previous half year, while deal volumes fell by 12%. The trend was reflected in the Middle East, with total M&A deal values increasing fourfold from the last half of 2018, despite a slight dip in volumes, according to the latest report by global law firm Baker McKenzie*.

Global M&A started strong in H1 2019 when the total value of announced deals soared to over USD 2 trillion, buoyed by a number of domestic mega-mergers, particularly in the US. The top five deals of the period were all domestic deals, with companies shying away from big ticket cross-border transactions due to concerns over the volatility in equity markets. Cross-border M&A volumes dropped by 15% versus the same period last year, and values were also down by 45% compared to H1 2018.

In cross-border deal making, the US remained the top target and acquiring country. By value, Healthcare remained top target industry overall, featuring megadeals such as the Bristol-Myers Squibb/ Celgene USD 74 billion merger and the AbbVie/Allergan USD 63 billion merger. By volume, High Technology was again the top target industry overall.

Deal-making overall in the Middle East was driven by high-value deals in H1 2019, such as ADNOC’s USD 4 billion pipeline deal with BlackRock and KKR. Although overall deal volumes fell by 3% since H2 2018, transaction values grew fourfold, from USD 19.86 billion in H2 2018 to USD 104.4 billion in H1 2019. Despite a 12% drop in cross-border M&A deal volumes from H2 2018, deal values nearly doubled in H1 2019, rising from USD 14.26 billion in H2 2018 to USD 27.48 billion.

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To speak to us in relation to any M&A and transactional issues in the Middle East, please feel free to contact one of the lawyers below, or your usual Baker McKenzie contact.


Karim Nassar is the Head of the Equity Capital Markets practice of Legal Advisors, in association with Baker & McKenzie Limited, based in Riyadh. A resident in Saudi Arabia since 1998, Karim has been advising Saudi and foreign clients on a wide range of corporate transactions, including privatizations, corporate, securities, corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, as well as financial services regulations. He also helped to develop and finalize the regulatory framework for the Capital Market Authority in Saudi Arabia.


Omar Momany is a partner in Baker McKenzie's Dubai office and Head of the UAE Corporate & Commercial practice. Omar focuses on public and private mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructurings, corporate governance, joint ventures, commercial matters and corporate/shareholders' disputes in the UAE and throughout the region. Omar has over 17 years' experience in the Middle East and has acted for local and regional corporates and financial institutions, governments and regulatory bodies, multinationals, family businesses and royal houses.


Mohammad Al Rasheed is a partner in our UAE/Saudi Arabian Corporate & Securities practice, specialising in mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings and private placements. Mohammad has worked on transactions in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for more than 10 years, and has developed an in-depth knowledge of the Saudi Arabian market. Although based in the UAE, his practice is split between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

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