We're more than three quarters through 2019, and the year in M&A has been what it was expected to be: slow.
Global announced-deal volumes for October were down 9% from the year-earlier month, the analysts wrote in a Tuesday note. "Broad-based weakness in U.S. deal activity more than offset continued momentum in European strategic deal-making," they said.
The bank did note that global deal volumes year-to-date are down 8%, with U.S. volumes up 7%.
But that's still a far cry from 2018's total volume increase of 45%, according to research from Dealogic and law firm White & Case. And the uptick in volumes for the year in the U.S. has been lead by large-cap deals, which have seen volumes increase 80% year-to-date.
Those large deals, while at times reflective of confidence in economic growth, can often be isolated transactions with very particular strategies. The potential Xerox-HP tie-up is aimed at getting XRX some exposure over and above printers, as HPQ has a sizable software business.
A large increase in U.S. deal volumes would be unlikely since 2018's M&A frenzy was driven largely by the reduction in corporate taxes, to 21% from 35%, set by Congress and the White House.
Falling interest rates have likely supported activity, as some buyers, especially financial buyers like private-equity firms, use debt to finance large chunks of acquisitions.
And "we saw a shift in deal activity away from strategic to financial-sponsor deals, with sponsor deals declining only 3% vs. an 11% fall for strategic deals," the Goldman analysts said.