Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Is there more M&A going on in the Great Recession or less?

We’ve certainly been just as active in spite of the economy, but in a different way. Initially (at the start of the recession), we were slower to pull the trigger because we were busy evaluating the chaos that was occurring. We looked at hundreds of potential transactions and didn’t do any of them. We are pretty conservative so we wanted to understand what was happening around us and to the industry in general before we made any moves. Over the past year, we’ve made several acquisitions, and most were distressed in one way or another and we had to be creative in terms of how we structured those transactions so that it was a win-win for both seller and buyer. Today, we are very active and continue to evaluate hundreds of opportunities. We expect to continue to be very active on the acquisition front this year. We still have the strongest balance sheet in the industry, and we have ample cash flow to fund our acquisitions.

As for what others are doing in our industry, I would say that there is, as a general matter, much less acquisition activity because most other buyers have to finance their acquisitions and either can’t raise the capital or simply don’t want to because they are busy licking their own wounds. Or they can't afford to take the risk that a distressed acquisition can be turned around.