After a sluggish 2013, middle-market M&A is picking up, with many positive signs in evidence throughout this April issue of the magazine.

"People are feeling better, which has helped open the markets a bit and made private equity fundraising much more robust," reports Terrence Mullen of Arsenal Capital Partners, one of several PE firms that have raised successful funds in recent months. Limited partners, are returning to the asset class enthusiastically. The result is the most vibrant climate for fundraising we've seen in years, as our cover story by contributing editor Danielle Fugazy demonstrates.

Other numbers coming out of the first quarter of 2014 paint a cautiously sunny picture, as assistant managing editor Anthony Noto reports in our Q1 Wrap Up. Deal value soared, with the first three months of the year yielding total middle-market deal value of $66.9 billion -- the highest for the first quarter since 2008. More signs that momentum is building appeared in Mergers & Acquisitions' monthly surveys of middle-market dealmakers throughout the quarter. Dealmakers polled in March predicted activity will increase significantly over the next three and 12 months, as demonstrated by the positive sentiment expressed in our new Mergers & Acquisitions Mid-Market Pulse (MMP), sponsored by McGladrey. The first installment shows that M&A professionals expect overall transactions to increase significantly over the next quarter and over the next year, and M&A in the health care sector to outperform the overall market.

The uptick in activity is sure to translate into new opportunities for many dealmakers. Some investment bankers are already taking advantage of the shifting winds to venture into new terriority, explains reporter Allison Collins in her Finance Finesse column.

New to our team is Richard Grant (pictured), who joins as senior sales manager, working closely with Harry Nikpour, vice president, capital markets. Grant was most recently senior account manager of business development at Cision US. Welcome!

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