A potentially expensive missed call

Contact: Brenon Daly

With AT&T’s planned purchase of T-Mobile USA now looking increasingly unlikely to close, we may have to take an eraser to our deal totals for 2011 – a very big eraser. Like most other M&A databases, The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase tallies transactions by their date of announcement rather than close. (However, we do note when the transaction is officially complete in our deal records, where relevant.) And recent regulatory developments in AT&T’s proposed consolidation of T-Mobile, which was announced eight months ago, appear to indicate the $39bn pairing may not get consummated.

If that happens, the total M&A spending for 2011 will decline by a full 17%. The planned purchase, which is the largest telco transaction in a half-decade, is three times the size of the next-largest deal announced so far this year, Google’s $12.5bn proposed purchase of Motorola Mobility.

Another way to look at it: AT&T’s $39bn cash-and-stock purchase of T-Mobile roughly equals the average monthly M&A spending around the globe for two full months so far this year. Without the big telco deal, the total value of all 2011 transactions is likely to come in just slightly below the $226bn we recorded in 2004. If that’s where spending does indeed land this year, it would represent an uptick of about 28% compared to 2010 full-year total of $172bn.