By Quentin Webb
LONDON (Reuters) - Global mergers and acquisitions (M&A) have hit nearly $200 billion (128.7 billion pounds) so far in August, just $60 billion shy of the record set in 2006 for what is typically one of the quietest months of the year, Thomson Reuters data shows.
The $197.6 billion of deals appears to vindicate analysts and bankers who have spent months predicting an upturn in M&A, as cash-rich corporates regain confidence, the economic backdrop improves, and banks are increasingly ready to lend.
This week has also seen the highest value of announced deals since November -- when Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKA)(BRKB) agreed to buy rail company Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp, in the billionaire investor's biggest-ever takeover.
This month's deals include:
BHP Billiton's (BHP Billiton PLC ORD $0.50)(BHP BLT FPO) $39 billion hostile offer for Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc (POT), the world's largest fertilizer firm;
Intel Corp's (Intel Corporation) $7.7 billion offer to buy antivirus software company McAfee Inc (MFE), the chipmaker's biggest-ever deal;
And RSA Insurance Group PLC's (RSA Insurance Group PLC ORD GB) 5 billion pound offer to buy rival Aviva's non-life units, which Aviva has rejected.
(Reporting by Quentin Webb; editing by Simon Jessop)