The third quarter is rapidly coming to a close, and if we had to sum it up in one phrase, it would be: “Let’s make a deal!”
Global mergers and acquisition activity through the first nine months of the year is up 13% over the same period of 2012, good for a total deal value of more than $2 trillion, according to a report by Dealogic.
You can thank some U.S.-based M&A in the third quarter for that. The last three months were hardly short on home-grown mega-transactions, historic mergers — and some big, brand names getting bought up.
Here are the seven top M&A highlights of the third quarter:
The biggest deal by far was Verizon’s (VZ) agreement to buy the remaining 45% stake in Verizon Wireless from U.K. telecom giant Vodafone (VOD).
More than a decade in the making, the deal’s final price tag of $130 billion makes it the third-largest corporate transaction of all time, adjusted for inflation.
In what looks like two drunks trying to prop each other up, Microsoft (MSFT) agreed to buy Nokia’s (NOK) handset and services business for $7.2 million.
MSFT is desperately trying to play catch up in mobile digital — yet another huge tech revolution that has passed it by. Nokia, once the largest handset maker on the planet, is desperately trying to avoid the fate that befell Palm and, more recently, BlackBerry (BBRY).
In a deal that generated outsized coverage given its small size, Amazon.com (AMZN) founder and CEO Jeff Bezos personally paid $250 million for the Washington Post newspaper.
The Washington Post Co. (WPO) will continue on in different form, presumably under a different name, but that’s not what caused all the heat and light. When one of America’s most important news organizations needs a billionaire benefactor to survive, well, you know that’s going to make the headlines.
The luxury retail sector served up a double dose of headline-grabbing buyouts. The private equity owner of Neiman Marcus agreed to sell the upscale chain to another private group — led by Ares Management and a Canadian pension plan — for a total of $6 billion.
Elsewhere among luxury names, high-end department store Saks (SKS) sold itself to Canada’s Hudson’s Bay Co. for $2.4 billion.
In another — albeit much smaller — act of consolidation in the telecom sector, AT&T (T) struck a deal to buy prepaid cellphone company Leap Wireless (LEAP) for $1.2 billion.
True, that’s peanuts compared with the $39 billion AT&T was prepared to pay for T-Mobile — at least before regulators put the kibosh on the deal. If nothing else, it shows AT&T is still looking for opportunities to expand.
One of the quarter’s largest deals went down in the biotechnology sector. Amgen (AMGN), the largest biotech company by sales, scooped up smaller rival Onyx Pharmaceuticals (ONXX) for $10.4 billion.
Onyx specializes in cancer-fighting drugs, and that’s what piqued Amgen’s interest — especially Kyprolis, a therapy for multiple myeloma.
The supermarket industry saw further consolidation when Kroger (KR), the nation’s largest grocery-store chain, bought Harris Teeter Supermarkets (HTSI) for $2.5 billion in cash.
By buying Harris Teeter — which had $4.5 billion in revenue last year — Kroger adds 212 higher-end (read: higher-margin) stores to its already impressive base. It also deepens the company’s presence up the east coast from Florida to Delaware.
As of this writing, Dan Burrows did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.