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But, according to a recent survey from Brunswick Group LLC, 2010 is setting up to be completely different. The survey, which polled market participants in the M&A community including banker, lawyers and other advisors, revealed that 78% of respondents expect M&A activity to increase, while 22% expect it to stay the same.
And venture-backed activity has already picked, with the National Venture Capital Association and Thomson Reuters reporting 111 venture-backed M&A deals in the first quarter, nearly double the activity of a year ago. Four of those deals were in the Industrial/Energy sectors.
Why the drastic change? CEO and board confidence has improved, say respondents to the Brunswick survey. And credit availability is beginning to open up some.
"This year's results reveal a substantial change in sentiment in the M&A world and advisors appear to be quite optimistic that the deal activity we've seen in the first quarter of the year will continue and potentially accelerate during the remainder of 2010," said Steven Lipin, senior partner, Brunswick Group. "While it may be premature to sing Bon Temps Rouler, overall the community is feeling much more positive."