Driven by the $21.9 billion Publicis/Omnicom ad agency merger, M&A activity hit a 6-year high in 2013, according to a year-end report from investment banking firm, the Jordan, Edmiston Group (JEGI). Nearly 1,400 deals closed with an aggregate value of $88.6 billion.
The Publicis/Omnicom partnership accounted for close to a quarter of the total deal value last year though as it dwarfed the next-largest purchase—BC Partners $4.4 billion acquisition of Springer Science + Business Media. Taken out, the media, information and marketing industries saw an 11-percent decline in dollars spent. Total volume rose 3 percent however.
Despite the mixed results, JEGI cites technological advances, an abundance of available debt and cyclical timing as factors pointing toward increased activity in 2014.
"Private equity firms are expected to continue divesting companies acquired during the peak of 2006 to 2008 as these approach a typical five to seven year hold period," the firm says in its report. "PE firms are also looking to invest the capital that was raised in record amounts during 2007 and 2008. And most importantly, business and consumer confidence appear to be cautiously rebounding as the U.S. economy resumes hiring."
Sticking to recent patterns, marketing and interactive services was the biggest mover in 2013 with 479 deals for a total of $45 billion, but consumer online media and technology was the second-most active sector with 219 acquisitions for $6.1 billion.
Both volume (57 deals) and value ($601 million) for b-to-b online media and technology fell sharply as the segment failed to deliver a major deal in 2013. Just two acquisitions drove more than $10.4 billion for the sector in 2012.
See also: M&A Hits Prerecession Levels
Traditional business media continued to be the most predictable segment with 34 deals for $452 million however. Those numbers are in line with activity levels in three of the last four years.
The consumer magazine industry has been similarly consistent in volume (37) since 2010, but, with small sample sizes, has delivered erratic aggregate value figures. Deal value reached $1.7 billion this year after totaling just $277 million in 2012.
Mobile media and technology (145; $7.4 billion), and exhibitions and conferences (64; $3.7 billion) each continued their rapid growth, posting double-digit increases in volume and triple-digit gains in value.