Less of the same for October M&A

With October standing as the worst month for the Dow Jones Industrial Average in more than a decade, we thought we’d see what the market’s rout did to M&A totals. Essentially, October continued the sluggishness that we’ve already seen in the first three quarters of 2008, with M&A falling about one-third from October 2007. (See our full report on Q1-Q3 activity.) And while the drop in dealmaking seems sharp, it pales in comparison to the losses on Wall Street, at least on a relative basis. Consider this: the October declines of the Dow and the Nasdaq (14% and 18%, respectively) account for exactly half of the total losses for both indexes in 2008. Ouch.

Also similar to the first three quarters of the year, big buyers sat out October. Only three transactions valued at more than $1bn were announced last month. (And, we’d be quick to add, one of them – the $2.3bn unsolicited bid for Atmel – has been rejected and, if history is any guide, probably won’t go through.)

Even with the continued bearishness in the M&A markets, the activity in October does offer a glimmer of hope for the return of a vibrant deal economy. At least things didn’t get worse. And if things continue to not get worse, it’s not too much of a stretch to see them starting to get better.

October deal flow

Month Deal volume Deal value Deals worth $1bn+
October 2006 330 $37bn 8 (Google-YouTube, Open Solutions LBO)
October 2007 309 $32bn 5 (Nokia-Navteq; SAP-Business Objects)
October 2008 238 $23bn 3 (CenturyTel-Embarq, unsolicited bid for Atmel)

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase