If there’s anything M&A professionals dislike, it’s uncertainty. And heading into 2020, there’s more than enough uncertainty to go around, including questions about the economy, international trade, impeachment, domestic politics and more. The funny thing is, the lack of clarity may actually make the first half of the year a great time for M&A, as dealmakers push to close transactions before the looming uncertainty of Election Day and its outcome. We conducted interviews with 8 investment bankers and other M&A advisors. Some said the first half of the year will be robust, while others said the uncertainty may have a negative impact throughout 2020. "There’s no doubt this election has the potential to cause immense disruption, particularly in certain industries that could be significantly impacted by a potential change of administration (banks and healthcare, for example)," says Cole Bader, head of M&A, Stifel. "In those cases, there may be a push to get deals done earlier in the year before any votes are cast. I think we’ll have a better handle on how this all plays out once we know who the Democratic nominee is. Keep in mind, the stock market historically has performed well in presidential election years when a sitting president runs for re-election, and a strong stock market is another tailwind for increased M&A activity." Read the full story, What’s ahead for M&A in 2020? We ask 8 advisors. Mergers & Acquisitions has opened up the nomination process for the 13th Annual M&A Mid-Market Awards, which will honor leading dealmakers and deals that set the standard for transactions in the middle market in 2019. Nominations are accepted only through our electronic forms. The deadline is Friday, Feb. 7, 2020. There is no fee. For more information on the nomination process and what we seek in winning candidates, see Call for nominations: Submissions for the M&A Mid-Market Awards due Feb. 7. CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A NOMINATION. DEAL NEWS Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY) is buying Dermira for $1.1 billion. Dermira makes biopharmeuctical products that are used to treat chronic skin conditions. Evercore and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP are advising Lilly. Citi, SVB Leerink and Fenwick & West LLP are advising Dermira. Pentland Group, the owner of the Speedo brand, is acquiring the Speedo North American business from PVH Corp. for $170 million. PVH previously licensed Speedo in North America and the Caribbean. KPS Capital is buying the IKG business from Harsco Corp. (NYSE: HSC) for $85 million. The target makes aluminum and metal bar grating parts that are used mainly in industrial, security and safety products. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP is advising KPS. Altus Capital Partners-backed Thermal Solutions Manufacturing has bought Alfa Lava Champ, a provider of tubular heat exchangers to the marine and industrial sectors. For more deal announcements, see Weekly wrap: Colony Capital, Yum!, Warburg Pincus. To see which other firms are fundraising, check out PE fundraising scorecard: Aegis, Blackstone, Great Point, May River. DEAL TRENDS U.S. PE fundraising hit record highs in 2019, with over $300 billion raised despite a reduction in fund count, according to PitchBook. Over 5,000 PE deals were announced worth more than two-thirds of a trillion dollars. Private debt fund activity has slowed down in 2019 with 152 funds securing $107 billion, an 11 percent drop from 2018, according to Preqin. Dry powder also fell going from $292 million in 2018 to $261 billion in 2019. However, the fundraising market is still active to begin 2020 with 436 funds seeking up to $192 billion. FEATURED CONTENT Mergers & Acquisitions has named the 2020 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A. This marks the fifth year we have produced the list, which recognizes female leaders with significant influence inside their companies and in the wider dealmaking world. It’s been gratifying to watch the project evolve over the years – and become more influential itself. This year, we received more nominations than ever before. As a result, we expanded the number honored to 42 in 2020, up from 36 in 2019. Many dealmakers are new to our list, including Rockwood Equity Partners' Kate Faust, William Blair's Shay Brokemond and Avante Capital Partners' Ivelisse Simon. Read our full coverage of all the champions of change on our list, including Q&As with each individual. Mergers & Acquisitions examines the impact of 7 technologies on M&A in the retail sector. Read the whole series: Overview: Retail Tech M&A: 7 Technologies Driving Change Retail Tech M&A #1: Nike, McDonald's, PayPal, add customization, IoT Retail Tech M&A #2: Why Walmart and other retailers are buying artificial intelligence startups Retail Tech M&A #3: Amazon leads race to build fulfillment centers Retail Tech M&A #4: Do robots fill orders faster? Retail Tech M&A #5: Voice recognition gives retailers more ways to communicate Retail Tech M&A #6: Data improves customer service Retail Tech M&A #7: Demand for convenience drives growth in mobile ordering Albertsons, Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR), Stop & Shop and Walmart (NYSE: WMT) are building automated mini-warehouses and "dark stores" to make deliveries and prepare pickup orders. Mini-warehouses are usually attached to existing stores, and in most cases, "dark stores" are completely separate. Both formats are closed off to customers, and are mostly automated. They use the assistance of robots for speed, save on labor, and get orders out faster. Kroger bought a five percent stake in robotics firm Ocado. Read our full coverage: Smart supermarkets become popular, as Kroger, Walmart add them. To celebrate deals, dealmakers and dealmaking firms, Mergers & Acquisitions produces three special reports every year: the M&A Mid-Market Awards; the Rising Stars of Private Equity; and the Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A. For more on the timeline and nomination process for each, see Special reports overview: M&A Mid-Market Awards, Rising Stars, Most Influential Women. EVENTS The Annual AM&AA Winter Conference is taking place in Scottsdale, Arizona Jan. 8-10. Deal Wave is being hosted by ACG Orange Country at the Ritz-Carlton-Laguna Niguel in Dana Point, California on Jan. 9. ACG New York is hosting the 12th annual healthcare conference and bourbon tasting at the Metropolitan Club in New York on Feb. 27.