Venture Exits Might Be Down, But Total M&A Activity Is Definitely Picking Up

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The value of venture-backed exits (which is almost entirely M&A these days) might be down about 50 percent in the third quarter, but total M&A activity (including public companies) is seeing a noticeable uptick.

We ran some numbers on Crunchbase, which keeps track of all announced acquisitions, and in the third quarter $31.8 billion worth of acquisitions were announced, double the amount from the second quarter and up fourfold from the $7.6 billion low in the fourth quarter. That number was even up 23 percent from the year before. Update: Those original numbers were based on a preliminary run. We’ve since done a final run, and the the value of deals in the quarter were even higher: $45.1 billion (versus $15.4 billion in the second quarter).

Many of the bigger deals involved publicly traded companies, such as Xerox buying Affiliated Computer services for $5.75 billion, Dell purchasing Perot Systems for $3.9 billion, and Adobe picking up Omniture for $1.8 billion.  There were also a lot of biotech and pharmaceuticals deals such as Abbott Labs swallowing Solvay Pharmaceuticals ($6.6 billion) and Dainippon Sumitomo eating Sepracor ($2.6 billion).

The actual number of M&A deals is pretty flat at 213 231, which is about where it’s been for the past four quarters. But the average value of each deal in the quarter was $349 million, up 85 percent from last year. So buyers might be more picky, but when they do pull the trigger they are willing to spend more money. And they are more willing to spend money for companies with established businesses, which often means they are publicly traded or have been around a while.

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