General mergers & acquisitions in the United States are taking place at the fastest rate since before the Great Recession. Retail giants Office Max and Office Depot are combining to form a more efficient global purveyor of office goods and supplies. Market mover Warren Buffett joined another firm in buying all the stock of H.J. Heinz Co. for a cool $23 billion. Two weeks ago, Michael Dell took the company bearing his name private, in a leveraged deal that looked a lot like a pre-recession transaction. Liberty Global bought British Cable business Virgin Media for $16 billion.
Energy/oil & gas M&A has been particularly robust, hitting a 10 year high according to PwC in Houston. Q4 activity increased overall deal volume in 2012 to a 10-year high at 204 transactions when counting only deals valued at $50 million+. These deals represent $146.2 billion, the second highest total deal value in ten years. The recovery in energy M&A seen last quarter was driven by several factors, according to PwC; these included urgency to finish deals before potential tax changes, an increase in shale play popularity and improving private equity interest.
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