In the 2021 edition of IFLR’s M&A Report, Latham & Watkins considers key developments likely to impact M&A in 2021, and how dealmaking is likely to progress in light of these developments.

By Nick Cline, Robbie McLaren, Douglas Abernethy, Richard Butterwick, and Catherine Campbell

If 2020 was the year that COVID-19 precipitated extraordinary government intervention and regulation of our lives, 2021 looks set to be the year that regulatory interventions in M&A precipitate changes to the way that dealmakers approach transactions.

After a disrupted first half of 2020 and a respectable rebound later in the year, M&A market sentiment for 2021 is generally positive. Absent unanticipated shocks, factors including the resolution of Brexit, a new US administration, and the widespread rollout of COVID-19 vaccines bring expectations of a busy year ahead for deals.

As regulators and governments push to introduce or enhance a wide range of rules impacting investments in multiple sectors, dealmakers should expect that the hand of government will still be felt, even for businesses not traditionally viewed as ‘regulated’. Successfully executing an acquisition in 2021 will require skilful navigation of a complex and evolving legal and regulatory landscape — and deal teams must remain agile to successfully clear hurdles.

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