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German M&A report

DAX/MDAX global M&A survey

10 years of German deals

2020 was a remarkable year. It's also the year that bookends Freshfields' latest survey of the most recent decade of M&A activity by the 90 largest listed companies in Germany – plus the trends that are likely to shape the transactional landscape going forward.

While a lot of focus inevitably falls on the effects of COVID-19, nine of the 10 years covered by our survey predate the pandemic. Over that period, macro trends such as digital transformation, a rapidly evolving regulatory environment and (geo)political volatility have impacted M&A activities of many DAX and MDAX companies. These, along with the post-pandemic recovery, will continue to be key factors for decision makers in weighing inorganic growth opportunities for German corporates in the future.

Overall, there were 1,356 DAX and 618 MDAX acquisitions between 2011 and 2020 (1,974 in total). As for 2020 itself, the number of acquisitions and investments announced by the DAX and MDAX constituents did not significantly decline despite the slowing of global M&A activity, which saw deal-making fall 18 per cent by value and 14 per cent by volume compared to 2019.

Even though the pandemic is still affecting economies almost everywhere in the world, we expect 2021 to continue the extraordinary level of activity that we saw at the end of 2020. Indeed, last year's boardroom uncertainty has made way for confidence, inspired by COVID-19 vaccines being deployed all over the world and the swift reaction of governments in rolling out unprecedented financial aid packages. The global M&A market will also be fueled by the ongoing wave of acquisitions by special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), and record levels of liquidity available to financial sponsors and corporate investors.

From a sector perspective, key areas of M&A activity among German corporates (including through corporate venture capital) will be tech, digital and other highly innovative industries.

If you would like further information, don't hesitate to contact a member of our team.