Transactions involving insolvent companies increased 370% last year, to 543 bankruptcy-related deals representing $95.5 billion in volume, according to mergermarket, a merger-and-acquisition data provider.

The value of deals involving distressed companies totaled just less than the $150 million generated over the past four years.

Separately, M&A deal volume declined 27% last year, even as the value of global mergers increased 35% over the fourth quarter of 2008, to $626.8 billion for 2,523 announced deals. In addition, the value of Asian merger transactions set a record total at $177.1 billion, eclipsing the previous high of $141 billion recorded for the fourth quarter of 2006 by 26%.

M&A activity in 2010 is expected to be driven by private-equity-related deals and corporations like pharmaceutical companies seeking to rebuild their drug pipelines, according to mergermarket.

Morgan Stanley led the global M&A league tables in 2009, surpassing Goldman Sachs Group Inc. with $585.9 billion worth of deals. However, Goldman Sachs garnered the most transactions at 244, compared with Morgan Stanley's 231.

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