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Merger and acquisition activity will likely pick up in the next six months, led by the healthcare and life sciences and manufacturing and distribution sectors, a survey of dealmakers showed on Wednesday.

According to the results of a survey of investment bankers compiled twice a year by the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) and Thomson Reuters, 85 percent of dealmakers expect an increase in M&A activity.

A year ago, only 56 percent predicted an increase.

Dealmakers expect the healthcare and life sciences sector and the manufacturing and distribution sector to each account for 20 percent of merger activity, followed by financial services (13 percent) and technology (12 percent).

"The pervasive sense of frustration among M&A professionals is lifting as they become increasingly occupied sourcing and evaluating potential deals," said Dennis J. White, ACG chairman and senior counsel at McDermott, Will & Emery LLP.

"There is always a bit of a time lag between the time company owners decide to sell, when the investment bankers and business brokers organize the sales process, and when the private equity firms or strategic acquirers bid and then close the deals."

Citing 38 percent of dealmakers, the survey said the greatest drag on M&A activity was sellers unwilling to sell at multiples offered. The credit crunch also affected the M&A outlook, although to a far lesser extent than a year ago.

According to Thomson Reuters, the volume of all worldwide mergers and acquisitions totaled $573.3 billion during the first quarter of 2010, up 21 percent over the first quarter last year.

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