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Global investment banking fees declined in 2019 as merger activity dipped, with equity underwriting and syndicated lending declining too.

Financial data firm Refinitiv reported that worldwide investment banking fees totalled US$101.1 billion in 2019, down 3% from the previous year.

The dip came as M&A advisory fees declined by 12%, equity underwriting fees dropped 8% and syndicated lending fees were down 11%.

The lone bright spot was debt underwriting, which saw fees reach record levels, rising by 16% during the year.

JP Morgan led the industry league tables, ranking as the top investment bank by estimated fees in 2019, with US$6.5 billion worth.

Goldman Sachs came second with an estimated US$5.7 billion in fees, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch edged out Morgan Stanley for third place at US$5.1 billion. Citi placed fifth.

RBC Capital Markets was the top-ranked Canadian firm, with US$1.9 billion in fees. This put RBC in 12th place, down one spot from a year ago.

BMO Capital Markets gained two places in the global rankings to 20th place with just under US$1 billion in fees. TD Securities slipped to 23rd place from 20th last year.

Refinitiv also reported that the financial sector was responsible for almost 30% of the global fee pool, US$29.6 billion worth.

The tech sector generated a record-high US$8.1 billion in fee business.

Conversely, fees from the consumer staples, retail and telecom sectors suffered double-digit declines due to a drop off in M&A in those sectors.