Equity capital markets (ECM) activity during the first half of 2012 totalled $5bn, down 40% from the first six months of 2011. The top Middle Eastern ECM transaction was a $1.9bn follow-on from Qtel, according to a new report. Bolstered by this deal, telecoms was the most active sector in the Middle East during the first half of 2012 with 44%, followed by the financials sector with 26%. As sole-lead bookrunner for Qtel’s follow-on offering, QNB topped the Middle Eastern ECM ranking, Thomson Reuters said in a report. ECM issuance in the Middle East reached $4bn in Q2, 2012, nearly four times the value seen during the previous quarter. The Middle Eastern merger and acquisition (M&A) activity reached $8.5bn during the second quarter of 2012, an increase of 45% on the previous quarter, and marking the strongest quarter since Q1, 2010, the report said. “Investment banking has seen strong activity across Middle Eastern markets during the second quarter of 2012. This is clearly evident by the strong M&A activity during the second quarter, which took the total value of M&A to $14.3bn by the first half of 2012, an increase of 137% over the same period in 2011 when activity totalled $6bn,” said Thomson Reuters’ managing director (Mena) Russell Haworth. Financials is the most targeted industry in the Middle East M&A activity with $4.3bn or 30% of the activity so far during 2012, followed closely by telecoms with 29%. Egypt is the most active Middle Eastern country, based on target, with $4bn for 28% of first half activity. Credit Suisse topped the “Any Middle Eastern Involvement M&A ranking” during the first half of 2012 with $4.78bn, while HSBC took second place with $4.13bn. HSBC topped the Middle Eastern target M&A ranking, controlling 29% of the market. The largest Middle Eastern targeted deal so far this year was National Bank of Kuwait’s $2.1bn offer for Kuwaiti Islamic lender, Boubyan Bank in June. Middle Eastern debt issuance reached $6bn during the second quarter of 2012, a 45% decline from the strong first quarter total of $10.9bn. It took first half 2012 activity to $16.9bn, up 51% on the same period in 2011. Islamic debt issuance reached $14.5bn from 34 issues, an increase of 25% from the same period in 2011, and the strongest first six month total since 2008. The top Islamic issuer nation during the first half of 2012 is Malaysia with 45% of the activity, while the strongest industry is the financials sector. HSBC took the top spot in the Islamic bond ranking for the first half of 2012 with 10 issues, which raised $1.9bn. Middle Eastern syndicated lending during the first half of 2012 reached just $186.8mn, a 98% plunge from the same period in 2011 ($10.2bn), and the slowest first half in more than a decade. from gulf times.