Global deals worth $1.3tn were agreed in the first quarter, the strongest start to the year since at least 1980, fuelled by US acquisitions and Spac mergers despite the economic impact of coronavirus restrictions.
The three months to March topped even the heady levels of the dotcom boom at the turn of the millennium, according to figures from Refinitiv.
The data underscored the scale of the rebound in dealmaking activity after it plummeted in the pandemic’s early days. US-based deals were responsible for much of the frenzy, increasing 160 per cent compared with the first quarter of 2020.
The rush also propelled investment banks to their most lucrative quarter in at least 20 years, bringing in more than $37bn in total fees.
“The rebound from a year ago is more dramatic than anything we’ve ever seen in M&A recovery — full stop,” said Cary Kochman, co-head of global mergers and acquisitions at Citi. “It is just unprecedented.” (FT)
Follow our live blog for the latest Covid-19 news.
Deliveroo stumbles on debut The UK’s ambitions of enticing tech companies to list in London were dealt a severe blow when Deliveroo’s shares plunged 26 per cent in the food delivery company’s debut on Wednesday, deemed the “worst IPO in London’s history” by one of its bankers. Read more in our #techFT newsletter — sign up here. (FT)
Banks conduct internal Archegos probes Some of the banks that collectively had more than $50bn of exposure to Archegos Capital are conducting internal inquiries over whether Bill Hwang concealed other positions from them. Moody’s and Fitch have downgraded outlooks for Nomura and Credit Suisse, citing concerns over risk management. The losses have shone a spotlight on the influence of family offices and the risks of the opaque equity derivatives business through which banks empower hedge funds to make outsize bets.
Biden unveils $2tn infrastructure plan Joe Biden is proposing to plough $2tn in government spending into US infrastructure alongside $2tn in higher corporate taxes, in the first stage of a multitrillion-dollar effort to reshape the world’s largest economy. The proposal will dominate US politics for months. (FT)
Orban plots populist alliance Hungary’s nationalist leader Viktor Orban will hold talks with Matteo Salvini of Italy’s rightwing League and Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice on Thursday to discuss a conservative-nationalist alliance they hope will shake up the balance of power in the European parliament.
China’s secret loan contracts to low-income nations revealed Chinese lenders have used legal contracts to give them a hidden advantage over other creditors to low-income countries, including prohibiting borrowers from restructuring Chinese debts in co-ordination with other creditors, a trend that threatens to undermine global debt relief efforts, according to research. (FT)
The UK’s best-paid executive Denise Coates, head of the gambling group Bet365, has set a record for the UK’s best-paid executive with a £421m package that makes her one of the highest-earning corporate figures in the world. (FT)
Navalny on hunger strike Imprisoned Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny declared he would start a hunger strike in protest against what he said was systematic torture and denial of medical care. (FT)
UK Health Security Agency launches The body will replace Public Health England and be charged with tackling Covid-19 and dealing with future health threats. It begins operations on Thursday, headed by Jenny Harries, England’s deputy chief medical officer.
Opec meeting Opec and its allies outside the oil cartel hold a monthly output meeting but are unlikely to raise output quotas as lockdowns in Europe continue to weigh on demand. Harbour Energy, the largest independent UK oil and gas producer, will debut the same day in a crucial test of investor appetite. (FT)
UK foreign trave lsystem Ministers will hammer out a “traffic light” framework for reopening Britain’s overseas travel sector, with May 17 identified as the “earliest date”. (FT)
NSPCC helpline The children’s charity will provide a dedicated helpline for adults and child victims of sexual abuse in schools, with support and advice on how to contact police if needed, as the government prepares to launch an emergency review. (FT)
Earnings Next reports. (FT)
How two decades of EU migration went into reverse Almost two decades of migration into the UK appear to be going into reverse. Brexit shook the faith of some foreign-born workers, while Covid-19 has caused their jobs to disappear or be put on hold. What does this mean for them, and for Britain?
Protests leave UK police in an ‘invidious position’ Caught between tough-talking ministers and human rights advocates, police forces are struggling to get the balance right. The issue is likely to arise repeatedly in coming months as coronavirus lockdowns in all four UK nations are eased. (FT)
The galactic battle over Musk’s Starlink Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and much of the satellite industry hope to deliver high-speed, low-latency internet as the world becomes more connected. But the rush to launch satellites threatens to crowd areas in low orbit to Earth, writes Peggy Hollinger. (FT)
UK politics morphs from delusion into sleaze What went through David Cameron’s head, asks Henry Mance. Was it a giant dollar sign, or did the former PM think lobbying was his remaining calling in life? Cameron’s work for disgraced banker Lex Greensill tarnished a legacy already darkened by misjudgments over Brexit and austerity. (FT)
The future of work takes shape The pandemic has left the world’s former office workers in a state of flux. But as lockdowns ease, some trends are becoming clearer: there has been no mass exodus from major hubs. People who moved opted to remain in the orbit of big cities. Check out our series on the new workplace. (FT)
Britain shifts military focus The UK’s defence forces are slimming down and harnessing the power of AI and satellites to meet 21st century threats. Defence and security editor Helen Warrell talks to General Sir Patrick Sanders, head of the UK’s Strategic Command, about the huge transformation. Read the highlights of their conversation here. (FT)