The stage is set for strategic buyers. Uncertainty over macroeconomic issues may have dimmed the corporate lights on M&A plans in previous years, but 2014 is providing a more promising script. Debt financing is readily available; many corporations boast significant cash on their balance sheets; shareholders are clamoring for more than just share buybacks; and companies are scouring for targets at home and abroad with more immediacy than before. CEOs are viewing the M&A scene with more confidence than they have in a long time.
If one had to choose a single word to describe the M&A market in 2013, it would be disappointing, and indeed many market participants have used this very term. But the exasperated deal makers have had little time to cry in their beer - they've been too busy. The M&A market took off like a rocket in 2014, fueled by the return of the megadeal (transactions with a value of more than $10bn), which has been in hibernation for the last several years. The momentum of the first quarter carried into the second, setting up 2014 as a potential bellwether for the market's longer-term evolution.