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Deals drying up as advisers disappear

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Spending on technology mergers and acquisitions fell by one third compared to the same three months of last year from $58bn to $37bn.

Big deals suffered even more than smaller ones - there were only six deals worth more than $1bn between July and September, compared to 11 in the same period last year and 22 such deals in the third quarter of 2006, according to research from the 451 Group.

Part of the reason for this is the disappearance of available credit to pay for such buyouts - there were just 12 leveraged buyouts in the period compared to 36 in July to September of 2007. So there is less money for such deals, and fewer banks and adviser institutions left after the toppling of Lehman Brothers and the takeover of Merrill Lynch to complete those mergers that do happen.

Depressed share prices also had an impact on the number of acquisitions - the Nasdaq index is down 20 per cent on the year. Google shares are at a three-year low and the firm has bought four companies so far this year compared to 14 in the same period last year. Dell shares are at a seven-year low and the firm has made just one acquisition this year. Even companies whose shares have resisted the general fall in share prices like IBM have shown no appetite for acquisitions.

But there is still some activity - researchers reckon there have been 2,200 deals so far this year, which were worth a total of £250bn. The last two years have seen total tech M&A spending of nearer £500bn but the figures for this year are not too far from those in 2005 - which saw 3,031 deals with a total value of $374bn. ®

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