Three years ago in February 2007 there was plenty of M&A action and the big news was the Oracle purchase of Hyperion for $3.3 Billion. There was also some big layoffs with both Nortel (2,900 people) and Alcatel-Lucent (12,000) announcing layoffs in their ongoing attempts to fix their respective woes. In February 2008 Nortel was still announcing layoffs and the news centred around economic uncertainty. Last year in February 2009 the news was once again all about layoffs and economic uncertainty. Nortel, in addition to their layoffs sold their Alteon asset for less than $18 million, which they had bought for $7 billion nine years previously!
All of which brings us to February 2010. February has not been a busy month for M&A activity in three years now, and this year is no exception. Close to home for me was Manpower’s acquisition of Comsys which will see their US professional staffing capability notably improved, and may have some spillover into Canada. Google continued its moves into social networking with the acquisition of Aardvark in addition to its BUZZ offering. Oracle purchased a couple of smaller entities, now that its Sun purchase is all done. IBM bought a small network software company that focuses on the telco vertical and Sybase bought a company that has a strong foothold in the financial services vertical.
There are signs around the world that economies are recovering from the depression … Canada gained jobs in January (mostly part-time, but at least growth not more losses), the UK is seeing strong demand for permanent staff and Spherion tell us that US worker optimism is up.
Certainly Eagle is seeing increased activity in most markets and discussions amongst my peers in the staffing industry would support the opinion that the recovery continues in the right direction . and (fingers crossed) no signs of a relapse. How governments cope with their deficits (Canada’s is projected at $55.9 Billion) and whether all levels of government will be pragmatic about new legislation (such as the proposed spam laws at the Federal level) will have a big impact on business’ ability to keep the recovery going. Just because McGuinty’s Ontario government would not listen to industry and have created the “have not” province of Ontario it doesn’t mean that Harper needs to make us a “have not” country!
I’m an optimist and the world’s economies are recovering … Canada is right there too!