Worldwide, the value of deals was the lowest it has been since 2003, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
The value of the deals reached worldwide $542.8 billion, which was higher than January through March in 2012, but lower than the first quarter of 2011 by 26 percent.
In the United States, a few individual deals pushed the overall merger and acquisitions value to $269.8 billion, 89 percent higher than the first three months of 2012.
Those deals include a $24.4 billion offer for computer giant Dell. But that deal is facing opposition and may be rejected by a shareholder vote.
In Europe, a 2,705 deals with a value of $125.7 billion were announced, sharply slower than the same period a year earlier.
"The mergers and acquisitions market remains uneven," said Scott Lindsay, global head of mergers and acquisitions at Credit Suisse.
The environment for deals is also uneven. Stock values are soaring with two major U.S. indexes – the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor's 500 index – reaching all time closing highs in the quarter.
Interest rates are very low by historical standards. The U.S. Federal Reserve has announced they would likely stay low for several more years, which means interest rates won't rise soon.
Still, executives are shying away from big deals.
"There's a little bit of everything going on right now. But you would think there would be more activity than there is," Lindsay said.