A quiet end to the year

Contact: Brenon Daly

As we flip the calendar to the final month of 2009, it’s worth noting that December is almost always a quiet month for M&A. That was particularly true last December, which saw just $6bn of spending on tech acquisitions. The spending level represented a scant 2% of the total $301bn of spending on deals in 2008. (If the month had recorded its representative one-twelfth (8%) of the annual total, spending would have come in at roughly $25bn.)

Of course, last December was a pretty bleak time, with investment banks reeling and companies ratcheting back their financial projections for the coming quarters. But even in times of more robust dealmaking, December has been a below-average contributor to annual M&A spending. For instance, deals in the final month of 2007 and 2006 represented just 6% of the totals in both years.

So what does all that mean for M&A in the final month of this year? Assuming we return to a more normalized level of activity in which December accounts for about 6% of total annual spending, we’ll be looking at about $9bn worth of deals between now and year-end. Overall, that would put total spending for 2009 at just $151bn – exactly half the amount that we saw in 2008.

A month off

Year Total spending in December December spending as % of annual total
2008 $6bn 2%
2007 $26bn 6%
2006 $29bn 6%
2005 $38bn 10%

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase