US pharmaceuticals giant Johnson & Johnson announced it was buying Europe's biggest bio-pharmaceutical firm, Switzerland's Actelion, for $30 billion. Photo: AFP, Michael Buholzer

Mergers and acquisitions in Europe, totaling US$215.3 billion, saw a 16% rise year on year for the first quarter, the fastest start to a year for transactions since 2008, reports the Financial Times.

What’s driving the strong start? US companies spent a record-breaking US$114 billion overseas in the quarter.

The Trump trade stock rally has helped fuel the buying spree, along with the increased optimism in the European economy.