H/Advisors Abernathy Releases 2024 M&A Leaks Report

There’s no question that 2023 was a challenging year for dealmakers. Amid the massive downturn in transaction volume, how did the M&A media reporting landscape change?

In H/Advisors Abernathy’s fourth annual Leaks Report, we analyze announced M&A transactions in the North American market* to showcase the key trends that shaped leaks reporting this past year. In our 2023 report, we focus on valuation and industry-specific trends, the accuracy of media leaks and the impact of phenomenon, such as a rise in divestures and a slowdown in private equity-backed dealmaking.

In 2023, we found that:

  • Amid a slowdown in overall deal volume, only 24% of announced transactions leaked. Larger deals, valued at more than $10 billion, leaked at a higher rate of 43%, slightly down from 47% in the previous year. Largest deals still consistently leak more, with half of the ten largest deals by value having leaked in 2023.
  • Smaller deals leaked more often than they did last year. Two thirds of the deals that leaked this year were valued under $5 billion, a year-over-year increase of 29%. Divestitures also leaked at a higher rate than whole-company transactions, with 30% of divestitures having leaked in 2023, compared to 22% of whole-company transactions.
  • Private equity deals again were a driver of the M&A market in 2023, with 44% of transactions announced involving a private equity buyer or seller. Private equity deal leaks followed the same trends we observed across M&A overall, with 27% of PE deals having leaked, compared to 24% of transactions overall.
  • Media leaks were increasingly accurate in reporting transaction parties with 76% of leak articles accurately naming both parties involved in the transaction, up from 70% in 2022. Conversely, valuation accuracy declined from 2022 when 60% of leaks accurately reported the transaction value within a 10% margin compared to 2023, when 58% of leaks achieved this level of accuracy.
  • Social media was the driving force behind leak attention. In 2023, social media channels like X and Reddit drove the most chatter, as social media accounted for more than 74% of all reach (by impressions), compared to 23% among traditional online media.
  • Entertainment, leisure and media was the “leakiest” sector, with media having reported on 47% of announced transactions in 2023. While technology and software services was the busiest sector overall, with 73 deals in 2023 valued at over $1 billion, 26% of these transactions leaked, in line with the larger average. Energy/utility and real estate transactions leaked less than the overall average, both below 15%.

This year’s report also includes recommendations from our M&A Team about how executives and dealmakers should prepare to announce a transaction and manage the potential for a media leak, including scenario planning for potential rumor or leak scenarios, and how to reassume control of the public narrative should a leak occur.


*Announced North American transactions greater than $1 billion per Mergermarket

Download H/Advisors Abernathy 2024 M&A Leaks Report