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Evercore executive chairman sees some M&A headwinds

Evercore Partners Inc. Executive Chairman John Weinberg said the M&A market in the U.S. and Europe is not clear of all headwinds and uncertainties.

During Evercore's Feb. 1 earnings conference call, Weinberg said he expects the overall M&A market to remain healthy in 2017 driven by low interest rates, high equity prices, abundant credit availability and strong business confidence. He added that Evercore's M&A advisory business started 2017 with a number of announced deals in January, but uncertainty still exists in the marketplace.

"We definitely understand that things are not going to be a straight line to success," Weinberg said.

An analyst noted during the call that M&A activity in Europe has been stagnant since 2009 but has showed some increase in the early part of 2017. Weinberg said Evercore is cautiously optimistic about the outlook in Europe but added that there is more uncertainty there than in the U.S. He believes strategic decision-makers want to move forward with deals in Europe, but there are many obstacles, such as Brexit and elections in France and Germany. He said many companies are waiting for market clarity.

"There's a lot that's going to happen in the next two, three months that's really going to kind of indicate what happens over the whole year," he said.

Weinberg also noted that the U.S. faces some uncertainties with the possibility of tax reform and other policy decisions. But Evercore Senior Chairman Roger Altman said deal talks among companies have increased since the U.S. elections.

"Whether that continues, who knows … and we'll just have to see how that evolves," he said.