NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Wall Street may have kicked things off this week with a good, old-fashioned Merger Monday, but it's still way too soon to say market conditions are even inching closer to a return to M&A's heyday in 2007.
Although the week's headline deal -- Prudential plc's ( PUK) $35.5 billion purchase of the Asian life insurance unit of American International Group ( AIG) -- had all the hallmarks of a bubble-era transaction, including a premium valuation, a healthy debt component and a mammoth rights issue to raise the necessary funds, it was an outlier in terms of size. Fueled by cheap debt, global M&A totaled $4.62 trillion in 2007, according to Dealogic, and the year featured seven $20 billion-plus acquisitions, including the takeover of TXU Corp. for $43.2 billion by a consortium led by private equity firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Texas Pacific Group in the largest leveraged buyout on record. After the bubble burst, takeover activity fell to $3.18 trillion in 2008 before slumping to $2.39 trillion in 2009. > > Bull or Bear? Vote in Our Poll Those bubble-era deals have laden those private equity targets, like First Data, with debt, and made strategic acquisitions like Bank of America's $21 billion cash purchase of LaSalle Bank pricey. Several other potential 2007 deals -- including the agreed-upon sales of SLM Corp. ( SLM), Penn National Gaming ( PENN) and PHH Corp. ( PHH) -- never happened, and the targets don't appear likely to find a new buyer any time soon.