Global mergers and acquisitions had a record February, including an all-time high in acquisitions by special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), according to new data from Refinitiv.

The firm reported that total global M&A deal value reached US$405.3 billion in February, pushing the year-to-date total to US$698.7 billion, which is up 56% from the same period a year ago.

This represents the third strongest start to a year, behind only 2000 and 2018.

In February, acquisitions by SPACs set a monthly record with US$108.6 billion worth of deals.

This pushed SPAC deal activity in the first two months of the year to US$150.6 billion, which is more than 30 times higher than the same total in the first two months of 2020, Refinitiv noted.

Alongside the surge in SPAC activity, robust global M&A was driven by tech sector transactions, which accounted US$157.7 billion in deals so far in 2021 — another record, representing 23% of global deal activity (up from 13% last year).

“Tech has been the leading M&A sector for seven consecutive months, since August 2020,” the report said.

Refinitiv also noted that there were 104 deals worth at least US$1 billion in February, the highest total on record, and well ahead of the previous record of 85 mega-deals.