Americans are too smart to join UK merger wave

Where are the Americans? That’s what some of the analysts watching foreign companies snap up British companies are wondering.

It seems that acquirers from Asia to Europe are bidding furiously for any British company with reasonable prospects. Spain’s Banco Santander snaps up Abbey and Ferrovial stalks BAA. Germany’s Linde will swallow BOC unless the competition authorities object. Japan’s Toshiba acquires Westinghouse and Nippon Glass picks off venerable Pilkington.

But the Americans sit on their hands or, more precisely, their cash piles.

The merger wave is now at levels not seen since the boom of 1999-2000. The value of announced merger and acquisition (M&A) deals involving companies in the euro area has been running at $10 billion (£5.8 billion) per day, and all global deals at about $20 billion a day.

Executives once reluctant to get involved in hostile takeover bids are shedding their inhibitions and joining the bidding wars. Companies that once contentedly cultivated their local and national markets are now keen to globalise their operations and tap new markets. This newest merger wave is washing across Europe, with British firms among the leading targets.

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600450 Americans are too smart to join UK merger wave

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