Post-holiday M&A wrap: Mergers & Acquisitions names Most Influential Women; investment bankers share forecasts for 2020; and more

Andrew Jessen, head of M&A, William Blair

In case you missed it, here’s a roundup of special reports Mergers & Acquisitions published over the holidays, including our 2020 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A; an in-depth look at technologies transforming the retail sector; a fresh look at giving back; and 8 Q&As with M&A advisors, including William Blair’s Andrew Jessen, about what to expect in the year ahead.

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. “Many companies will insulate themselves from this uncertainty by seeking to complete deals in the first half of 2020, before the Democratic National Convention in July,” explains Andrew Jessen, head of M&A, William Blair. “The biggest source of uncertainty is driven by who will win the Democratic nomination. If a more moderate candidate wins the nomination, volatility headed into November’s election should be relatively muted. But if a more progressive candidate wins the nomination, investors and business owners will be monitoring the campaigns very closely to see how the Democratic and Republican candidates’ proposed policies could affect specific sectors.” Read the full story, What’s ahead for M&A in 2020? We ask 8 advisors.

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.

The holiday shopping season shines a spotlight on the retail sector, which is undergoing huge transformational changes. 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

The holidays provide a good opportunity for us to explore the philanthropic and volunteer initiatives underway in the private equity industry. In 2018, we published The Big Give, an in-depth look at how private equity firms are contributing. Efforts have continued to flourish, fueled by younger Millennials seeking to build a better future and by mature partners considering the legacy they will leave behind. Read our 2019 coverage: Private equity gives back: Vista's Robert F. Smith, Clearlake's José E. Feliciano, Riverside employees.

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