Alex Smith-GreatDebate

– Alexander Smith is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Volumes may be down, but there are green shoots appearing in the M&A market after the frozen winter of financial distress.

This doesn’t mean a return to the boom years of a few years ago. It could take years for deal values to reach the dizzy heights of the second quarter of 2007, given falls in asset prices. But the number of deals is recovering fast. This fell off a cliff in Q1 of 2009 and at just over 8,000 deals was the lowest global tally since Q3 2004.

The week starting March 29 was the busiest of the year in terms of deals announced, with 821 transactions, and the 5th busiest since Sept. 2008, according to Thomson Reuters data.

There are still some complications (the disappearance of loan-funding, equity market volatility to name just two), but investors seem to be back on the hunt for bargains.