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Posts Tagged ‘tech mergers’

Here is an interresting read from BusinessWeek.

For the mergers-and-acquisitions market, there is no doubt 2009 is ending better than it began. The year is winding up with a “sigh of relief,” says Morton Pierce, chairman of the M&A practice at law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf.

In the past month the M&A market has built up some momentum. According to Bloomberg, deals in North America were valued at $115.6 billion in November, the most since September 2008. Compare that with late 2008 and early 2009, when dealmaking either wasn’t happening at all or was centered in areas where deals absolutely needed to happen, such as failing financial institutions that needed buyers at any price. Deal volume in November was five times February’s volume of $22.5 billion.

Investors looking ahead to 2010 are wondering if this uptick in M&A can continue and where it will occur. Acquirers almost always buy at a premium, so traders can profit from correctly betting which industries will attract the most bidding activity.

Small Tech Deals

In 2009, Internet stocks, the investment and financial services industries, software, and oil and gas production were among the most active, according to Bloomberg data. Expect more dealmaking among technology stocks, say M&A experts. Oracle Corp. (ORCL) is battling European regulators to finish its $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems (JAVA).

Such acquisitions, and especially much smaller deals, are a way of life for tech firms, says Daniel Mitz, a partner at law firm Jones Day who specializes in tech deals. “A lot of the innovation comes from smaller companies,” Mitz says. Dealmaking in tech slowed but didn’t stop during the downturn. There could be significant pent-up demand, Mitz says. “This is an industry that is ripe for M&A.”

One driver of a rebound for M&A in tech will be the strong financial positions of many tech firms, says Nadia Damouni, editor of dealReporter Americas, which tracks the M&A market. Another “cash rich” sector is health care, she says, but here the prospects for an M&A rebound are harder to read. The reason: Uncertainty surrounding the federal overhaul of the U.S.health-care system proposed by President Barack Obama and under discussion in Congress. “They’re at the whim of health-care reform,” Damouni says of the many insurers and health-care services companies that could be M&A targets at some point.

In health care, the key ingredient for dealmaking is “stability,” says Bob Filek, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers Transaction Services. If health-care reform passes—or even if it doesn’t—acquirers will want some certainty about what federal policy will mean for health care before making bids. Filek envisions “a couple of scenarios where [the result could be] a lot of M&A activity.”

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Here is some possitive news from VC Circle.

“The ongoing recovery in the economy and credit markets has made tech companies look for ways to come out on top.

The U.S. information technology services sector is likely to be a focus of merger and acquisition activity as its companies are among the most attractive in the technology space.

A rebound in tech spending has increased the appeal of IT services companies and put them in the crosshairs as deal momentum picks up in the industry.

The ongoing recovery in the economy and credit markets has made tech companies look for ways to come out on top, and they have shown a willingness to pay hefty premiums in a sector that has historically commanded high prices.

IT services firms have a recurring revenue stream, high margins, a strong growth outlook and impressive returns on investment, making tempting targets for buyers. They offer consulting, software services, business process outsourcing, systems integration and interactive marketing.

Cash-rich technology giants plan to strengthen their portfolios, and smaller firms want to stay in the game through acquisitions as their larger rivals become even more formidable.

Attractive acquisition candidates include Sapient, Computer Sciences, WNS, Amdocs, Cognizant Technology and ExlService, analysts said.

Consolidation is under way. In September, Xerox Corp said it would buy Affiliated Computer Services Inc in a deal valued at about $5.5 billion, and Dell Inc said it planned to buy Perot Systems Corp for about $3.9 billion.

“The pattern here is that you have commoditizing tech product companies looking for a strategy that’s better than doing nothing,” Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Rod Bourgeois said.

“They’re looking at the IT services industry to juice up their struggling tech product business.”

Possible acquirers could be tech giants such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard or Cisco, European players like BT or Deutsche Telekom and Asian companies like Hitachi, Fujitsu or NEC, analysts said.

“There’s definitely going to be some strategic acquisitions — there’s no doubt about that,” Goldman Sachs analyst Julio Quinteros said. “It’s just, how much are you willing to pay? And would you rather wait for the market to come back a little bit?”

The recurring revenue stream that IT services firms have gives them more visibility and stability.

“What’s driving a lot of this is the evolution of hardware companies looking for more stability and recurring revenues that are typically associated with services models and by the same token software companies potentially looking for the same thing,” Quinteros said.

Hardware and software companies want to diversify their portfolios by adding services, to help them survive and even prosper through tough times.

“What’s alluring about services for tech product companies is first the precedent of IBM and HP coupling products with services to be able weather the downturn well,” Bourgeois said.

In 2008, Hewlett-Packard acquired EDS for $13 billion in what is considered the biggest acquisition in the space ever. In 2002, IBM bought PwC Consulting from PricewaterhouseCoopers for about $3.5 billion.

“Vendors are trying, to some extent, to emulate the integrated model that IBM really pioneered when they got into the services business years ago,” UBS analyst Jason Kupferberg said. “HP followed suit buying EDS. Now you’re seeing a continuation of that theme.”

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Although a few days old, I found this article for todays post. It´s old news that Yahoo and Microsoft is partnering up – but what just hit me is that the forced antitrust review needed for the advertising deal might just be the precursor for a forthcoming merger.

Here is a Associated Press piece by way of The Eagle.

“WASHINGTON — Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp. hope that by joining forces, they can tilt the balance of power in Internet search away from Google Inc. First, however, Yahoo and Microsoft have to convince regulators that their plan won’t hurt online advertisers and consumers.

As the U.S. Justice Department reviews the proposed partnership, approval figures hinge on this question: Will the online ad market be healthier if Google’s dominance is challenged by a single, more muscular rival instead of two scrawnier foes?

The first step toward getting an answer came this month when Microsoft and Yahoo filed paperwork with federal regulators to comply with the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, an antitrust law governing mergers and alliances between competitors. The Justice Department has until early September to approve the agreement or — as is likely in this case — request additional information.

European regulators are also expected to review the deal. Microsoft and Yahoo are bracing for the probes to extend into early next year, and the outcome is far from certain.

Just nine months ago, Google abandoned its own proposed partnership with Yahoo to avoid a showdown with the government, which had concluded that Google was already too powerful in the lucrative market for selling ads alongside search results.

Google had hoped to extend its reach even further by selling ads next to some of Yahoo’s search results, and in the process, keep Yahoo out of Microsoft’s clutches. Microsoft aggressively lobbied against the partnership.

With the Google-Yahoo inquiry behind them, U.S. antitrust regulators are likely to enter this examination with a clearer definition of the Internet search landscape and a better understanding of how it affects the steadily growing online advertising market.”

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Here is article from USA Today. As the crisis starts to ebb out, the downsizing has produced piles of cash at some companies.

“SAN FRANCISCO — There could be a thaw in the months-long stagnant market for tech mergers and acquisition.

Data-storage companies EMC (EMC) and NetApp are dueling to buy Data Domain for at least $1.8 billion. Last week, chipmaker Intel (INTC) said it would buy testing and development software maker Wind River Systems for $884 million.

The quarter’s big catch was when Oracle (ORCL) snapped up Sun Microsystems for $7.4 billion.

While hardly a buying spree, the uptick could signal a break for what has been a sluggish tech M&A market since the third quarter of last year.

So far, $17.9 billion has been spent on tech mergers in the U.S. in the current quarter — more than the previous two quarters combined, according to market researcher Thomson Reuters.

The activity reflects one byproduct of a sour economy: Big tech companies sitting on piles of cash are willing to spend some of it to aggressively pick up innovative start-ups as well as rivals with customers and market share.

The deals come at a time when venture capital funding is scarce for start-ups and there are scant initial public offerings.

“People historically make their money when they invest consistently, even during downturns,” says Keith Larson, vice president of Intel Capital, the company’s venture-capital arm. The company has said that it will spend $7 billion over two years to build advanced manufacturing facilities in the U.S.

“Almost the worst thing you can do is pull back during a downturn and miss out on buying opportunities,” Larson says. “We have a multiyear road map on the technology side.”

Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers, who has navigated the venerable network-equipment maker through several downturns, has said companies willing to take calculated risks often emerge stronger from recessions.

A few established companies with ample cash reserves this year have bolstered their war chests with the intention of snapping up companies.

Cisco (CSCO), which sold $4 billion in bonds in February, has about $33.5 billion in cash reserves. It acquired Pure Digital Technologies, maker of the popular Flip video camera, for $590 million.

“If you have cash, it is a good time to fortify product lines and fuel growth,” says Cynthia Ringo, managing partner for VC firm DBL Investors.

So far this quarter, there have been 239 deals in the U.S., including the Oracle-Sun blockbuster. In the first three months of this year, there were 313 deals.”

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