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Global Executives See Merger Volumes Rising, Ernst & Young Says

Global executives expect merger and acquisition volume to climb this year amid a sunnier economic outlook, while remaining cautious about making deals of their own, according to a survey by consultants Ernst & Young.

About 72 percent of executives polled for the firm’s Capital Confidence Barometer said they expect takeovers to increase over the next 12 months, although only 29 percent expect to make major deals themselves, Ernst & Young said. Some 51 percent said they believe the global economy is improving, up from 22 percent when the survey was last conducted in October 2012.

The pace of takeovers has slowed this year after a busy January and February that saw deals including the $24.4 billion proposed buyout of Dell Inc. and Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s $23 billion purchase of ketchup maker HJ Heinz Co. Total announced deals fell 0.7 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier to about $479 billion.

“Expectations for global economic growth, corporate earnings, and credit availability are at some of their highest levels in two years,” said Pip McCrostie, Ernst & Young’s global vice chair for transaction advisory services. “However, our respondents are gravitating toward lower-risk value creation and growth strategies.”

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