Consistently inconsistent M&A in Q1

Contact: Brenon Daly

The first quarter is in the books and it’s hard to read much from it, at least in terms of M&A. While the quarter saw more deals announced than any other quarter since the credit crisis erupted, the aggregate spending on those transactions is lingering about one-third below the recent average. In the just-completed quarter, we recorded 841 acquisitions, with a total bill of $31bn. (We should note that nearly one-third of the M&A spending in the quarter came on a single telecom deal, where an Asian operator spent $9bn on mobile businesses in Africa just two days before the end of the quarter.)

Overall, the numbers point to an inconsistent recovery in the M&A market. On the one hand, many of the big buyers were busier than ever. CA Inc, Google, IBM and Oracle (among others) all announced at least three transactions in the just-completed quarter. But on the other side, we also saw a number of deals that continued the worrisome trends that we thought we might have left behind in 2009, with additional scrap sales and low-multiple divestitures in the first few months of 2010. Look for our full report on first-quarter M&A in tonight’s MIS and TDM sendouts.

Recent quarterly M&A activity

Period Deal volume Deal value
Q1 2010 841 $31bn
Q4 2009 822 $55bn
Q3 2009 758 $38bn
Q2 2009 778 $49bn
Q1 2009 663 $10bn

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase