Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) by Chinese companies in 2020 will likely be on par with last year once the coronavirus outbreak is contained, said global auditing and consulting firm PwC.

Though uncertainties over the epidemic made it harder to paint the picture for the year, M&A deals are expected to rebound in the second half of 2020, said Wai Kay Eik, China deals leader of PWC China.

The volume and number of M&A deals made by Chinese companies fell 14 percent and 13 percent, respectively, while foreign companies spent the most money ever last year to merge with or acquire Chinese businesses, according to a PwC report.

Declines in most sectors, especially real estate, were partially offset by spikes in industry and consumer products, with the number of industrial M&A hitting a new record under policy bonuses, said the report.

Chinese firms’ M&A deals in Belt & Road countries continued to expand in 2019 to reach 11.8 billion U.S. dollars.

With China’s private equity business maturing, the scale of M&A is growing despite fewer deals, said Qian Liqiang, a PwC China Partner.