Global mergers and acquisitions activity is set to reach an all time high in 1997, with the most active market being the telecommunications industry, where deregulation and the advent of new technologies have driven purchases through the roof. The figures come from a twice yearly survey conducted by international accountancy firm KPMG Peat Marwick LLP who track the value of deals where purchaser and target are based in different countries. Spending in the first six months of 1997 was up by 9% to $130bn with the telecommunications industry claiming a 9% share of the cake. Purchasers spent $11.6bn on telecoms- related deals, up a massive 186% on this time last year. A further shift saw the Latin American countries benefit from increased attention, attracting $16.9bn worth of deals, up 160%. US companies have been driving the increased activity, helped by the strong dollar and buoyant stock markets. But the same factors have caused US companies to be less attractive as targets, reducing acquisitions into the US by 25%. And the format of the deals shows that companies are becoming bolder in their acquisition strategies, with more and more deals being structured as outright acquisitions rather than the more cautious joint venture or strategic alliance, which shows that companies are more optimistic about the future and are prepared to gamble on it being a bright one.