He says that deal activity is likely to grow among firms "on the lower end of the ENR Top 500 and smaller that face competitive pressure like never before. They look at a world of tighter budgets and lack of funding and need a better capitalized platform from which to compete."

In general, Matheson points out, "there is a real chance of escalation in deals in 2012 given that tax rates escalate in 2013 and the capital gains rate may foolishly be increased. Firm owners "will feel pressure to act" before that happens.