According to analysis by market research firm Dealogic, covering the first three quarters of 2010, emerging markets contributed most towards global M&A volume (32 percent), followed by the US, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. Here, we pick five cities around the world where M&A experts gather to make those deals happen.
According to Dealogic, targeted M&A deal value in the USA totaled US$615 billion for the first nine months of 2010. For any M&A professional, the USA therefore offers huge opportunities. New York may be an obvious consideration, but how about Chicago? The 'windy city' has the fourth largest GDP of all metropolitan areas in the world. It also has a strong financial services sector, as well as a diversified economy, and contains the headquarters of many Fortune 500 companies.
The USA proves to be a hotbed of M&A activity, with Washington DC offering further impressive opportunities. The potential exists to work on deals in a variety of sectors, while the proximity to government adds an extra buzz to business life. After government jobs, the most employment opportunities exist in professional, scientific and technical services. The professional and business service sector in Washington DC is also predicted to continue growing.
While the UK represents most European M&A activity, Spain takes second place in the region, according to Dealogic's rankings for the year ending September 2010, with deals announced to the value of US$66.4 billion. Spain's capital Madrid offers both a vibrant work and social life. It can also be considered the major financial capital of southern Europe, with a high GDP per capita and hosting the headquarters of such corporate giants as Telefónica.
A financial hub for Australia and the Asia Pacific region, Sydney has a financial services workforce half the size of London's and approaching half of New York's. Its population of 4.3 million enjoys an outdoor lifestyle, as well as a thriving business and cultural environment. Though Australia is rich in natural resources, it has developed high-tech and creative industries too, making for a varied M&A portfolio.
According to Dealogic, China and Hong Kong accounted for US$157 billion of global M&A deal value in the first nine months of 2010. China's continuing growth means busy times for M&A. International investors are keen to gain a piece of the action too, despite the lengthy approvals process and tightened anti-monopoly rules introduced in 2008. As China's financial services capital, Shanghai also offers plenty of scope for M&A advisory work.
Washington DC: a first-hand view
Justine Milne joined KPMG in the US's Washington DC office as a senior associate in the firm's Accounting Advisory Services group in January 2010, having previously worked at the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) in Connecticut. Justine focuses on technical accounting in M&A transactions, such as whether a business needs to be consolidated. "I've also been involved with revenue recognition, embedded derivates, business combinations and leasing related projects," she says.
She thrives on the variety of her work. "None of the deals are the same," she explains. "I learn something new every time." The project-based nature of the work is a bonus too, as assignments may last from one week up to a few months. "I really like that constant change," she says.
As well as providing technical advice on transactions, Justine also helps to keep clients up-to-date with accounting developments related to the FASB's convergence projects with the International Accounting Standards Board. "In our group we are developing a lot of educational material for clients so that they are prepared when the time comes for them to implement new accounting guidance," she explains.
Although Justine could have moved to other cities, she decided to join an M&A team in Washington DC because of the variety of industry sectors with which she could work, and she hasn't been disappointed. "One of my larger clients so far has been an energy player interested in building wind farms overseas," she says. "I have also advised real estate, water utility, aerospace and defense, and infrastructure clients - I have exposure to a lot of different industries."
The Washington DC office also appealed because of its relatively new, developing Accounting Advisory Services team. "We are definitely busy here," Justine says. "And there's a lot of growth potential."
Apart from her technical expertise, what does it takes to succeed in her role? "Communication skills are vital," Justine says. "We are constantly meeting with clients and partners in the firm, and we need to be able to articulate potential issues or our conclusions clearly. It is also important to have good writing skills in order to provide clear and concise documentation."