No bear market for M&A in August

Contact: Brenon Daly

Boosted by two blockbuster transactions, spending on tech deals announced in August surged to $40bn, the second-highest monthly total since the end of the Great Recession. In fact, the aggregate deal value for the just-completed month came in roughly 2-3 times higher than typical monthly spending over the past year. (The exception, of course, came in March, when AT&T announced its $39bn cash-and-stock acquisition of T-Mobile. However, that deal may not go through, as the US Department of Justice earlier this week moved to block the combination, which would create the largest US wireless carrier.)

More than half of the overall spending in August came from just two announced transactions: Google’s $12.5bn purchase of Motorola Mobility and Hewlett-Packard’s $11.7bn pickup of Autonomy Corp. (Incidentally, those deals spanned the range of valuations, with Google paying less than 1x sales for Motorola’s handset business while HP is paying more than 10x sales for the information management vendor.) In addition, there were other transactions of note in August, including the $3bn buyout of Emdeon, Datatel’s $1.8bn reach for SunGard’s education division and Windstream Communications’ $891m consolidation of PAETEC.

Overall, dealmakers remained surprisingly busy in August. For the fourth month in a row, we tallied more than 300 deals, a level that’s about one-third higher than it was a year ago. The activity is all the more unexpected when we think back to the whip-sawing markets we had in the first week or so of August, not to mention the fact that the Nasdaq shed 7% of its value in the month. At one point in August, the index sank to a level it hadn’t hit since early October 2010.