M&A round-up: FT says flurry of big deals fires M&A activity to second highest level since 2007 crisis but, er, The Times says M&A deals fall by half amid global trade fears

Friday, 30 December 2016, 10:52 am

It's that time of the year where the data providers go into a a bit of PR frenzy to convince M&A hacks to write stories to use their data for end-of-year round up pieces. It's also that time of the year when M&A hacks unlucky enough to find themselves still in the newsroom are scratching about for a half decent story idea after their boss has yelled at them for copy to fill large, blank spaces on their pages.

As a result, two of Britain's leading newspapers have ended up publishing pieces with somewhat conflicting headlines and introductions. The venerable Financial Times has run an article on the front page of its main book with the headline "flurry of big deals fires M&A activity to second highest level since 2007 crisis" while The Times's business section has splashed on "M&A deals fall by half amid global trade fears".

This actually happens quite often in newspapers. I remember when working a late shift at The Daily Telegraph a few years ago seeing the front pages of the Daily Mail and the Daily Express come in at the same time with diametrically oppposing headlines. One newspaper splashed its main book with "house prices to crash" while the other mid-market tabloid led its front page with "house prices to boom".

To be fair, if you actually bother to read both the FT's and The Times excellent news pieces and their accompanying well-written feature/anlysis articles you will see they are focus on different aspects of the data from different data providers. Indeed, The Times has nosed off its business splash on data from Dealogic showing "merger & acquisitions involving British companies have plummeted by more than 50 per cent this year after a string of global events including the Brexit vote...".

Meanwhile the esteemed FT, which now considers itself to be first and foremost to be a global newspaper, has led it frontpage M&A news piece on the global data from Thomson Reuters. Here's the intro par to the FT piece: "a flurry of large takeovers during the last months of 2016 lifted global dealmaking to its second-best annual level since the financial crisis as appetite for corporate acquisitions continued in spite of political turmoil and heightened regulatory scrutiny.

Anyway, that's enough banter for one morning. On a more serious note, both pieces contain the usual anodyne quotes from top investment bankers from Credit Suisse, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley predicting the dealmaking boom will continue in 2017. It's The Times, though, actually attempts to identify some potential new deals that could take place next year albeit by using a ideas from stockbroker AJ Bell, which names ITV, Aveva, Imagination Technologies, Spectris and Renishaw as likely takeover targets for 2017.

I guess that's not a bad effort from The Times but here at little old Betaville's headquarters we like to get even more specific about potential new deals. So, keep an eye on the website as I might have some fresh news coming soon about a major new M&A transaction likely to take place in 2017...

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[Disclaimer - the information on Betaville does not consitute any form of investment recommendation and is not intended to be relied upon by readers in making, or refraining from, any investment decisions].

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