June gloom

Contact: Brenon Daly

Whether or not the rebound got ahead of itself, the market has certainly tightened up this month. And no, we’re not talking about the equity market. (Although the sentiment is applicable there, as well, with the Nasdaq recently dipping to its lowest point in a month.) Instead, we’re talking about the M&A market. After a furious start to the second quarter, dealmaking has slipped back to the sluggish pace we saw in the first few months of 2009.

A quick glimpse at the numbers: In both April and May, we saw some 250 deals worth about $20bn in each month. So far this month, we’ve had about 205 deals worth a scant $8bn. With just three business days to go in June, we’re looking at spending being down about 60% from what it was in each of the first two months of the quarter.

We’ve also noticed the recent return of a trend that we saw more often in the opening months of 2009: the involuntary sale. In both large and small transactions, sellers have increasingly found themselves forced to take any offer that comes in. We noted that this week in the startup world, as LucidEra was turned over to a workout firm to sell its carcass. And on a larger scale, bankrupt Nortel Networks gave up on ever emerging as a viable company and began the painful process of liquidation sales. The first deal gives some sign of the resignation: Nortel sold its most valuable unit for what is likely to be less than 1x cash flow.

Second-quarter deal flow

Period Deal volume Deal value
April 2009 263 $21bn
May 2009 242 $19bn
June 2009 205 $8bn

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase