European companies are snapping up U.S. targets at the fastest pace since 2008 as they use cheap financing and record cash levels to seek growth outside of the continent.

From German drugmaker Merck KGaA to British American Tobacco Plc, European acquirers announced $87 billion of deals in the U.S. in the third quarter, more than the previous 12 months combined, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That spending helped drive global deal volume to $886.7 billion, a 29 percent jump from the year-earlier quarter, the data show.

While dealmaking within Europe’s borders picked up earlier this year, the leap across the Atlantic reflects an appetite for opportunities that can’t be found in the region. Added to an already robust flow of dollars from the U.S. to Europe, the increase means “cross-border deals have become the norm rather than the exception,” said Gilberto Pozzi, head of mergers and acquisitions at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

“European companies are keen to look outside Europe for the right strategic deal,” Pozzi said. “The U.S. remains a very attractive market for European businesses that want to boost growth and market share overseas given its size and structure.”

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