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Fewer Companies Caught the Deal Bug in the Year of the Pandemic | Investing News

By Joshua Franklin and Pamela Barbaglia

(Reuters) – Global mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity fell to a three-year low in 2020, as companies grappled with the financial fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, even as dealmaking came roaring back in the second half.

The value of M&A globally dropped 5% year-on-year to $3.6 trillion, the lowest since 2017, according to a preliminary tally from financial data provider Refinitiv. There were 48,226 deals announced, compared with 50,113 deals last year.

Technology, healthcare and financial services deals led the recovery after M&A activity plunged in the second quarter on concerns about global economic prospects. A stock market rally and access to cheap financing gave chief executives confidence to pursue transformative transactions again.

“The biggest story has to be the enormous rebound we have experienced. Talk about dog years, we went through a three-to-five year cycle in just six months,” said Cary Kochman, Citigroup

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2020 tech transformation: Year in review

The year 2020 proved to be a pivotal one in tech, as companies provided essential services during the coronavirus pandemic and unveiled 5G telecom technology while facing unprecedented antitrust scrutiny and accusations of censorship amid an intense election and social justice movement.

“I think sometimes we hear that … U.S. innovation is slowing down, and I think the last year has shown that that’s not really the case,” Neil Chilson, senior research fellow for tech and innovation at the Charles Koch Institute, told Fox News. 

Chilson gave examples of the country’s rapid COVID-19 vaccine development, SpaceX’s astronaut launch in May and autonomous driving company Waymo’s recent announcement that its self-driving cars will be completely autonomous in trials in Phoenix.

“I’m pretty excited about the future. I think 2020 shows that the U.S. is still the world leader in tech and innovation, and we should continue to maintain our cultural

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A quarter of a billion people could find themselves jobless this year

Microsoft president Brad Smith. Photo: Getty
Microsoft president Brad Smith. Photo: Getty

Microsoft (MFST) president Brad Smith says global unemployment may reach a quarter of a billion people in 2020.

His stark warning comes as the US Congressional Budget Office estimates a 12.3 point increase in the unemployment rate putting 21 million employees newly out of work.

“It is a staggering number. The pandemic respects no border. Many other countries and continents face similar challenges,” Smith told the BBC.

Millions will need to learn new digital skills to get jobs or retain their existing employment, according to the tech giant boss.

Microsoft recently announced plans to deliver skills and training to 25 million people across the globe with the help of its subsidiary company LinkedIn.

It will spend $20m (£19.6m) on the programme. The software company estimates the global workforce can absorb around 149 million new technology-oriented jobs.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Up to 1,200

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