by Thomas Wailgum

Financial Meltdown’s Silver Lining: Fewer M&As Means Less Stress for Tech Customers!

Oct 02, 20082 mins
Enterprise Applications

Your company can’t secure a loan to expand its operations. Wall Street is a mess, and your share price is in the tank. Banks are collapsing. And your IT budget’s just been sliced for 2009.

If there is a silver lining to the catastrophic events of the last several weeks (and, heck, 2008 while we’re at it), then here it is: Fewer banks and investment firms, with less pools of credit to dish out to businesses means there’s less chance for mergers and acquisitions in the tech sector. And that means that there’s less a chance that your trusted vendor and its systems that you’ve finally got running smoothly will be acquired by another vendor on a completely different platform.

Which, as we all know, can lead to migration madness.

The recent turmoil was the disappointing crescendo of a trend in tech-related M&A begun this year. Overall, spending on tech M&A fell by about one-third during the past three months when compared with the previous year, according to Brenon Daly, a financial analyst with The 451 Group, in his “Q3 2008 M&A Report.”

“Against the backdrop of historic changes on Wall Street, acquirers stepped out of the market,” Daly notes in his report. When compared with the third quarter in 2007, the value of tech deals sunk from $58 billion to $37 billion. And the number of tech M&A deals dropped to levels below 2005’s amount—811 then and 691 in Q3 2008.

Daly notes the reluctance of high-tech vendors that scaled back their buying tendencies. Google has made just four deals in 2008, down from 14 during the same period last year, and Dell has inked just one deal so far this year, he writes. IBM, which bought three public companies during the first three quarters of 2007, has acquired just one public company so far in 2008, and Cisco has announced just four acquisitions in 2008, down from 14 during the same period last year, Daly adds. (To read an inside look at Oracle’s M&A plans, see “Oracle’s Merger and Acquisition Strategy Gets Some Respect.”)

Even if you’re glad the M&A pace has slowed, you have to sympathize with the plight of remote access software-maker LogMeIn, which had planned an IPO in mid-January. The IPO is being led by Lehman Brothers, Daly notes, which was just sold to Barclays after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

And who are you getting your investment advice from?