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Slowdown roils Indian deal street

The deepening slowdown has had its impact on the deal market in 2019 with mergers and acquisitions (M&As) plummeting over 34% to USD 67.1 billion but still making it the second best, on the back of the USD 6-billion ArcelorMittal takeover of Essar Steel, according to a report.

As per the report by Mergermarket, M&As in 2019 was the second highest in value despite declining 34.4% in 2018, which was the best-ever. But, the report is positive about 2020 as the government has eased foreign investment restrictions and plans to divest state-owned companies.

The report attributes the optimism to the relaxation in the foreign direct investment policy in August, loosening the restriction on coal and lignite mining, contract manufacturing, single-brand retail, and digital media, which may bring more opportunities to foreign investors.

"Overall M&As touched USD 67.1 billion across 422 deals, down 34.4% in value and 3.4% in volume compared to 2018 when the street saw 437 deals worth USD 102.2 billion," Mergermarket said in a note on Monday.

At USD 67.1 billion, India accounted for 10.4% of the deals in the Asia-Pacific region, said the report.

Of the total, inbound activities remained strong with USD 37.9 billion across 221 deals, while outbound deal value plunged 84.8% to a low of USD 2 billion across 54 deals, the lowest since 2014, when it was printed at USD 1.7 billion.

The numbers would have much worse had it not been for the Essar Steel-ArcelorMittal-Nippon Steel deal worth USD 6 billion at the end of 2019.