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)

Global dealmaking hits record in Q1 2021

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Earnings Next reports. (FT)

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