Small agencies to benefit from rising level of M&A activity

Expectation that 2013 could be a year of resurgence in mergers and acquisitions heightened throughout the first quarter on the back of four $10 billion-plus deals in February.

Expectation that 2013 could be a year of resurgence in mergers and acquisitions heightened throughout the first quarter on the back of four $10 billion-plus deals in February.

But the reality is that the first half disappointed many. Deal value was 12.5% lower at $896.1 billion compared to a year prior. Even though huge deals were announced, Q2 hiked its way past Q1, indicating that momentum for the second half may be under way.

Some of the highest-valued deals this year are an indicator of what's to follow. The technology, media, and telecommunications sector has emerged as the one to watch as half of the top 10 global deals fall within it. News Corp's publishing arm spin-off was part of the group's rebranding and efforts to refocus core activities. Yahoo, among others, is making acquisitions with talent in mind and digital developments see AT&T's bid for Leap Wireless International aimed at strengthening wireless and prepaid content. 

Tech, media, and telecoms deals that featured in the US' 10 highest-valued deals in H1 were advised by the usual suspects, including Brunswick and Abernathy MacGregor Group. This in turn led to both firms increasing their deal value from H1 last year, despite both advising on more than 10 fewer deals.

This lesser deal count could be the result of another emerging trend in the landscape, the rise of boutique firms. The global and US league tables show boutique firms are receiving more opportunities to advise on deals. For example, ICR advised Bausch & Lomb on its acquisition by Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, the US' eighth-largest deal in the first six months.

Even debuts for smaller firms occurred this year: Greenbrook Communications, a niche firm aimed at special situations in the financial services industry, entered the US PR table by value at 20th place for four deals valued at $2.1 billion.

A potential pick up of M&A in Q3 following Q2's resilience will keep smaller US agencies one step ahead globally as the country sees larger-capped deal announcements aside from the mega-deals. Noticing current trends such as the power of tech, media, and telecoms will give them scope to target sectors fueled by increased M&A activity as well as larger deal values.

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