M&A Media Deals Slow, Entertainment Acquisitions Are Standouts

By many measures, the mergers and acquisitions of media and marketing companies have slowed down for the start of 2013.

The first quarter of 2013 witnessed a 30% slowdown to $8.2 billion from $11.2 billion in the first quarter of 2012. The value of deals was down nearly 70% from $25.6 billion in the fourth quarter of 2012, per investment banker Berkery Noyes.

The number of transactions dropped 13% to 390 in the first quarter of 2013 from 449 in the first quarter of 2012. There were 411 deals in the second quarter last year; 407 in third-quarter 2012; and 384 in the fourth quarter of 2012. Eight of the top 10 largest deals of 2012 occurred in the third or fourth quarter.

Marketing deals, which remain the largest category of the media and marketing sector, increased 8% in volume from the fourth quarter to around 120 deals.

Internet Media deals declined 6% to around 90. Some notable deals: Pinterest acquiring social-networking site Punchfork, a social culinary Web site; Amazon buying book recommendation site Goodreads; and Facebook’s acquisition of blogging site Storylane.

Entertainment content deals were among the few that bucked the overall trend, rising 13% from the fourth quarter to around 50 deals. The largest deal was the Warner Music Group’s acquisition of Parlophone Label Group for $767 million, the second-largest deal in dollar volume during the period overall. Al-Jazeera buying Current for $500 million was the third-largest deal in the first quarter.

The business-to-business publishing segment grew 10% from the first quarter to around 40 deals. The biggest deal in the segment -- and of the first quarter overall -- was CVC Capital Partners’ $1.5 billion buy of corporate information database Cerved Group SpA.

Consumer publishing deals were up nearly 70% from the fourth quarter of 2012 to around 35 deals -- as well as 13% higher than the first quarter of 2012. Big deals here include NC2 Media’s buying of travel guide publisher Lonely Planet and Berkshire Hathaway acquiring Tulsa World and The News & Record.

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