Three years ago in September 2006 the big news was the purchase of Freescale Semiconductor by a group of investment firms for $17.6 Billion! Close on the heels of that deal Motorola bought Symbol for about $4 Billion. RadioShack also hit the news in September 2006 for firing 400 employees … by email! Two years ago in September 2007 we saw an investment group buy 3Com for $2.2B and T-Mobile expanded its US marketshare, paying $2.4 Billion for SunCom Wireless Holdings. The busiest acquirer that month was Yahoo with three acquisitions Zimbra ($350 Million), BlueLithium ($300 Million) and Participate Media (undisclosed). Last Year in September 2008 the collapse of investment banks and the potential bailout by the US Government filled the headlines. There was M&A activity but not on a grand scale … McAfee paid $465 Million for Secure Computing and Microsoft paid $485 million for Greenfield Online … a shopping comparison site. Perhaps the most interesting purchase was by Best Buy, who paid $120million for Napster.
That brings us to September 2009 and while there were some interesting developments in the M&A world, there were not a lot of studies released … so maybe people are just getting fed up with the constant debate about the economy! Not everyone though, the OECD released a report suggesting that Canada is lagging other major economies in recovering from the recession, which is counter to what most Canadian economists have been saying. Certainly Canada has fared much better than the US, and signs continue to be positive but most of us are very cautious with our optimism! The latest word from the experts is that its time to spend … it will be consumer and business spending that will restore confidence in our economy!!!
So … who was buying who in September 2009? I would have said that Dell’s $3.9 Billion purchase of Perot Systems would be the big news of the month. A very similar kind of deal as the HP/EDS deal a year ago and a sign that hardware companies are following the IBM model, by beefing up their services capabilities. THEN Xerox decided to buy ACS for $6.4 Billion … an even bigger deal and while similar to the DELL situation we now have a document management company (or do people still see Xerox as a hardware company?) buying an integration/consulting company. It continues a trend of consolidation and begs the question … who will be next?
There were some other very interesting and high priced deals this month. Ebay sold its majority holding in Skype to a group of investors for $1.9 Billion, which values Skype at $2.75 Billion. eBay originally bought Skype, amongst some criticism for some $3.3 Billion. Adobe also shelled out big dollars, $1.8 billion for web analytics company Omniture … and had a second deal close, with no price disclosed, of Business Catalyst.
Other deals this month include the continuing demise of Nortel, which sold its Enterprise Solutions unit to Avaya for $915 Million; EMC continues it quiet but relentless series of acquisitions … adding a couple of more this month Kazeon Systems and Fastscale technology; Raytheon picked up internet pioneer BBN and CA shelled out $200 million for NetQoS.
So I guess some companies are doing their bit to stimulate the economy … by buying other companies. Not sure if that is what Mark Carney (Bank of Canada governor) had in mind. Maybe we should all get out and buy “stuff” this month … have fun. That’s the news from September 2009 … until next month!