M&A Report: Deal-Making at Lowest Level in Eight Years

With the credit markets frozen, deal-making slowed to its lowest level in at least eight years, with more deals falling through than getting done. A scant $2 billion worth of reported transactions took place in 2008, down from $9.6 billion in 2007, according to investment bank DeSilva + Phillips’ 2009 M&A report.
That figure was eclipsed by the dollar volume of would-be sales that didn’t go through, including those of Reed Business Information (valued at $1 billion) and Informa (valued at $6.7 billion), per the firm’s annual recap, set to be released next week.
Despite the credit crunch that put a damper on financial-backed deals, activity in the healthcare arena showed resilience in 2008, with significant purchases including Wolters Kluwer’s purchase of UpToDate for $400 million and Waterfront’s merger with Revolution Health, the latter valued at $100 million. Traditional media continued their practice of buying up digital properties, with small purchases by Hearst Business Media, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Meredith Corp.
While the dollar volume of deals in 2008 was a record low for the nine-year period covered in the report, volumes have fallen below the $2 billion mark twice before, in 2003 and 2004. The median dollar volume for the report period was $4.7 billion.
A total of 108 deals were reported in 2008, down from 135 in 2007. Deals fell below 100 in 2002 and 2003, per the report. The median number of deals for the period was 114.