More middle-market transactions closed between January 1 and March 31 than any first quarter since 2007. The tally came in at 2,643 completed deals. In Mergers & Acquisitions’ March survey, dealmakers attributed the activity to optimism about the overall economy and business climate. Many said they believe Republican control of the federal government will lead to de-regulation, and that the easing will help boost M&A. Our March survey was conducted before the pulling of the House bill designed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. In interviews with dealmakers in the course of our regular reporting, there’s no sign that the failure to get a healthcare bill off the ground is dampening the conditions for dealmaking so far. We’ll get a clearer sense of any impact in the April results.
In March, survey participants gave the manufacturing sector top marks. Active sub-sectors include medical devices. For example, Boston Scientific is buying Symetis, a Swiss developer of devices used to perform heart surgery through blood vessels, for $435 million. Consumer packaging is also driving manufacturing deals. For example, earlier in April, Loews announced it is buying Consolidated Container Co. (CCC), a maker plastic packaging materials, for approximately $1.2 billion from Bain Capital Private Equity. Other active sub-sectors in manufacturing include the automotive industry, with self-driving cars fueling deals, such as Intel’s purchase of Mobileye, which makes chips for cameras and other driver-assistance features, for $15 billion. More M&A is expected in the manufacturing sector.