US M&A is back

Author: Zoe Thomas | Published: 14 Jul 2015

The first half of 2015 has seen M&A activity reach highs not seen since the financial crisis, but the catalyst behind this market is a combination of unique post-crisis trends.

Mid-year statistics reveal that both deal volume and value rose over the first six months of the year.

Activism began to drive purchases. Healthcare and pharma became the industries to watch. And payment structures using a mix of equity and cash emerged as a way to take advantage of market benefits.

US companies’ large cash piles and the improving S&P 500 had many speculating the M&A market would return a few years ago. But buyers remained cautious and most investors preferred to see excess cash used for dividend payments or share buybacks.

"Corporate America learned from 2007 that it needed to keep cash on hand," said Gar Bason, partner at Davis Polk & Wardwell. "A lot of...