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May IT Industry News - Early edition!

I am heading out on vacation for a month … so I have arranged for some “blogging” to happen during that time, with a “best of …” series of blogs based upon the 520 entries I have created over the last 2 1/2 years. The other impact of my absence is on the monthly Industry News update that I produce, which means this version is a 3 week version for May … and I’ll catch up with the June edition.

Below is the introduction to this month’s Industry News update, and the full version can be found at the Eagle website later today.

Last year in May 2007 brought some interesting, and big dollar, M&A activity much of it from private equity. Goldman Sachs and Texas Pacific Group paid $27 Billion for Alltel, the 5thlargest cell phone company in the US, Microsoft made its largest acquisition ever, paying $6 Billion for a Quantive, an internet advertising company. The other big deal was the sale of Acxiom for $3 Billion, and again to equity firms.

This month, May 2008, saw some interesting activity on the M&A front with an aborted attempt by Microsoft to buy Yahoo which could still morph into a different deal involving some parts of Yahoo. HP paid almost $14 Billion for EDS, announcing their intention to compete at the highest levels in the IT services and outsourcing business. CBS paid $1,75 Billion for the CNet suite of web based sites and Oracle made a foray into the insurance vertical with the purchase of software company Admin Server. Autodesk was “on a tear” with three acquisitions this month Moldflow, RealViz and Kynogon and Accenture bought another couple of companies to add to its growing acquisition list. One of my least favorite companies in the world, Vurv, was sold to Taleo for $128 million.

There are some mixed messages coming from studies with IDC Canada painting a relatively rosy picture of projected IT spending for 2008 and the US Conference Board reporting an increase in its leading indicators for April. Worker confidence however fell to a new low in a Spherion index and Yoh reported a drop in IT wages (which could be good news if you are paying but bad news if you are getting paid!).

A presentation I attended from a CIBC economist suggested that we are probably about half way through the fall-out from the sub-prime debt debacle, and while Canada is doing “OK” Ontario is either in, or on the brink of, recession driven by the manufacturing sector.

The staffing industry is typically a good “bell weather” for the economy, often the first to feel the effects of a slowdown when orders slow down and clients reduce their temporary and contract head count. We are NOT there yet and we are hopeful that the strange combination of skills shortages and a tough economy will shelter us a little this time! Wish us luck!