Total M&A consumer discretionary activity in the fourth quarter of 2019 jumped 78.8% year over year by value despite a decline in the number of deals, according to data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
M&A activity increased to $110.99 billion in value terms from $62.08 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018, while the number of deals decreased to 1,141 from 1,214 in the year-ago period.
For the full year, dealmaking rose 8.7% year over year in value to $276.73 billion from $254.60 billion. The total number of transactions climbed to 4,672 in 2019 from 4,611 in 2018, reversing the trend of several years of consecutive declines.
The largest deal for the three months and the year to Dec. 31, 2019, was Peugeot SA and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV's merger, valued at $45.04 billion. The combination of the French carmaker with its Italian-American counterpart is expected to form the third-largest auto company by revenue.
This was followed by LVMH Moët Hennessy - Louis Vuitton SE's acquisition of New York-based jeweler Tiffany & Co., which will expand the French company's presence in the watches and jewelry category. LVMH in November 2019 raised its initial offer of $120 per share to $135 per share, equating to a transaction value of $18.60 billion.
The third-largest acquisition was Flutter Entertainment PLC's purchase of Canadian online gaming company The Stars Group Inc. The deal, expected to create the world's largest online betting operator, was valued at €11.7 billion.
The fourth-biggest deal of the quarter was Viagogo Entertainment Inc.'s acquisition of fellow online ticketing marketplace StubHub Inc. from eBay Inc. for $4.05 billion. The sale comes after eBay conducted a review of its operations following talks with activist investors Elliott Management Corp. and Starboard Value LP.
Rounding out the top five largest M&A transactions for the three months is Isuzu Motors Ltd.'s agreement to purchase AB Volvo-owned UD Trucks Corp. for an enterprise value of ¥250 billion. The deal is expected to close by the end of 2020.
The automobiles segment was responsible for the biggest portion of M&A activity by value in the fourth quarter of 2019 at $45.57 billion, primarily driven by the Peugeot-Fiat Chrysler deal. It was followed by the hotels, restaurants and leisure segment at $23.39 billion, up 37.4% year over year, while the specialty retail sector saw a jump of more than 600% in value to $21.51 billion. M&A activity in the auto components industry was the fourth-largest in the quarter despite a 72% decline to $5.64 billion. It was followed by the e-commerce segment, which reached $4.16 billion.
In 2018, the auto components industry had the largest share of M&A activity in value terms in the fourth quarter at $20.60 billion, followed by the hotels, restaurants and leisure industry at $17.02 billion. The e-commerce sector came in third at $4.11 billion, closely followed by the diversified consumer services industry at $3.28 billion and the specialty retail sector at $3.19 billion.