Survey says: Companies ready to deal again

Contact: Brenon Daly

This year’s fast start to M&A activity by several of the big-name tech buyers (EMC, Cisco Systems, Apple and Oracle, among others) shouldn’t surprise us at all. After all, when we surveyed corporate development executives last month, two-thirds of them said they expected their firms to pick up the pace of dealmaking in 2010. That’s a far more bullish outlook than their projections last year, when the entire financial services industry and much of the broader economy appeared to be collapsing. At that time, some 23% of respondents said they expected to actually slow their acquisition activity amid all the uncertainty that loomed in the coming year. In our most recent survey, just 5% said they see a slowdown in dealmaking.

We’ll have a full report on the results of our annual 451 Group Tech Corporate Development Outlook Survey in tonight’s Daily 451 and 451 TechDealmaker sendouts. But we would add that the bullishness for M&A in the coming year expressed by our respondents extends far beyond just their projected activity. In both the types of transactions and even the structure of them, companies indicate that they have thrown off much of the conservatism and caution that characterized their outlook in late 2008 and are once again open to risk. And finally, they plan to be busy even though they tell us they’re likely to pay more in the deals they ink in 2010. It’s a dramatic turnaround from the previous year, so look for the full report on the survey tonight.

Projected change in M&A activity in the coming year

Year Increase Stay the same Decrease
2009 68% 27% 5%
2008 44% 33% 23%

Source: The 451 Group Tech Corporate Development Outlook Survey