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Coronavirus pandemic allows firms to embrace the future of business

Reproduced from PricewaterhouseCoopers; Chart: Axios Visuals

The coronavirus-induced recession led to a decline in deals during the first half of the year, but global firms are quickly coming off of the sidelines and setting in motion major changes to their business strategy, according to a new research from PwC.

Why it matters: Business leaders are laying out the blueprint for the future of commerce in the U.S. and around the world right now and trends are starting to emerge.

What happened: Deal activity in the second quarter saw the largest year-over-year decline since the dot-com recession in 2001.

  • But volumes have risen every month since May and mega deals already have been announced in July, including Berkshire Hathaway’s nearly $10 billion acquisition of Dominion Energy and semiconductor maker Analog Devices’ plans to buy rival Maxim Integrated Products for more than $20 billion.

The big picture: Tech is driving the market and size is incredibly important, as big companies are expected to begin making significant investments and are embracing newer technologies earlier than in previous cycles, PwC notes.

What they're saying: "Through the rest of 2020, we expect private equity to become even more active. As deal processes renew and investors put $2.6 trillion to work, private equity deal volume likely will return to its long-term average of about 20% to 25% of total US deal volume."

  • "The same pattern is emerging with respect to well-capitalized corporate investors, especially in the tech sector."

The intrigue: PwC highlights an important characteristic of this recession — in previous downturns the first step following the recession was that companies with sufficient resources would acquire ailing competitors. This was generally followed by a period of transformational deals, in which companies tried to adapt their business models to the realities of the new business environment.

  • "In the current crisis, however, we are seeing both trends unfold in tandem."

What's next: "Looking ahead, tech companies will likely be among those driving M&A’s recovery, both as acquirers and as targets."

  • "With their outsized access to capital, many firms are well-positioned to make deals poised to reshape emerging sectors."

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