London: Global merger and takeover activity fell by 24% by value last year from the 2008 level to $2.395 trillion, (€1.660 trillion), the lowest total for five years, a survey found on Tuesday.
The fall would have been much bigger but for state rescues of several banks.
The survey by consultants Dealogic, on the basis of worldwide announcements, showed that there was a sharp recovery of merger and acquisition activity towards the end of 2009.
The biggest deal of the year was the purchase of US pharmaceutical group Wyeth by US group Pfizer for $68 billion.
Second came a tie up of the Australian iron ore activities of Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, followed by a fusion of US pharmaceutical groups Merck and Schering-Plough.
However, activity was propped up by rescues for several banks and financial institutions, notably by the British government’s rescue of Royal Bank of Scotland.
The figures were also boosted by tie-ups resulting from bankruptcies or restructuring, as the financial crisis exposed weaknesses across finance and industry.
By region, activity fell by 24% in the US to $783.4 billion and by 44.0% in Europe to $718.5 billion.
But in the Asia-Pacific region excluding Japan, it rose by 9.0% to $493.1 billion, driven by the Rio Tinto-BHP deal.
Dealogic data showed that merger and acquisition business appeared to be recovering. In the last quarter of last year, the volume of mergers and takeovers jumped by 46% from the figure for the previous quarter, to $739.7 billion.