Heyday in May for M&A

Contact: Brenon Daly

This year opened with M&A spending in both January and February trickling along at the low levels it had been since the final months of 2010 – roughly $12-13bn each month. But then, the trickle turned into a flood. (Or at least the closest we’ve had to an M&A flood since the credit crisis.) March set a post-recession record for the value of announced transactions, with the activity staying steady in both April and now May.

The spending total for the just-completed month of May came in at $25bn. That basically matches the total for April, and is twice the monthly level we had been tallying since September 2010. (The record spending in March of $64bn came largely from AT&T’s proposed $39bn purchase of T-Mobile USA, the biggest telco acquisition in a half-decade.) Although smaller than Ma Bell’s move, big deals also helped boost spending totals in May, with two of the four largest tech acquisitions of 2011 announced in the month.

Altogether, M&A spending through the first five months of 2011 has hit a post-recession record of $137bn, putting the year on track for about $330bn in deal value for all of 2011. If we do hit that level, it will actually exceed the full-year totals for the two previous years combined. Spending on tech deals in recession-wracked 2009 totaled just $147bn, and spending only inched up a bit to $172bn in 2010.

2011 M&A activity, monthly

Period Deal volume Deal value, $bn
Jan. 322 $12bn
Feb. 285 $10bn
March 301 $64bn
April 283 $26bn
May 310 $25bn

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase