The volume of worldwide mergers and acquisitions totaled $730 billion in announced deals in the first quarter of 2008, a decline of 24.2% from the first quarter of 2007 and the lowest level for deal activity since the third quarter of 2006, according to Thomson Financial. In financial services, deals are being done out of necessity, whereas in the oil and gas industry where companies are making a lot of money, they are buying assets at inflated prices. Hedge funds have increasingly become takeover targets. While M&A activity in Europe has held up relatively better than in the US this year, optimism in the European deal market has fallen since last September as the credit crunch continues to bite. Outpacing the decline in new deal announcements in the first quarter of this year, fees for completed M&A financial advisory assignments fell 28.8% to $7.4 billion from $10.4 billion in the first quarter of 2007.