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Global merger and acquisition activity dipped a bit in 2019, according to a new report from Refinitiv.

During the year, worldwide M&A activity totalled US$3.9 trillion, the firm reported. Deal value declined by 3% and the volume of merger deals was down by 5% year over year.

Yet 2019 still ranked as the fourth biggest year for global M&A since data collection began in 1980, Refinitiv said.

Alongside the dip in global deal activity, the report said that cross-border M&A declined by 25% during the year to US$1.2 trillion — the weakest year for cross-border dealmaking since 2013.

By sector, healthcare led the way, with US$532.9 billion worth of deal activity in 2019, followed by the tech and energy and power sectors.

The U.S., which remained the top location for merger deals, saw deal activity rise by 6%, whereas deal activity fell by 25% in Europe and 14% in the Asia-Pacific region.

There were 43 deals worth over US$10 billion during the year, totalling US$1.2 trillion, Refinitiv reported.

The report also noted that private equity (PE)-backed buyouts accounted for 13% of the deal activity in 2019. PE-backed deal value rose by 5% last year, but volume dipped by 1%.

Refinitiv said that 2019 was the strongest year for PE deals since the financial crisis.