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Friday, May 20, 2022

Shifts in Strategy

For the San Fernando Valley, 2019 was a year of smaller deals – but lots of them. The previous year set the bar impossibly high. Few deals could match Burbank-based Walt Disney Co.’s purchase of Fox for $71.3 billion in 2018 for sheer size and market impact. Other deals that year – including AT&T Inc.’s acquisition of Warner Media, including Warner Bros. Entertainment in Burbank, and Chatsworth-based California Resources Corp.’s buyout of Chevron Corp. in the Elk Hills oil field for $460 million plus 2.5 million shares of stock also propped up the standard. In comparison, the biggest deal this year was Amgen Inc.’s purchase of psoriasis drug Otezla for $13.4 billion. On the following pages, Business Journal reporters recap 10 of the largest representative deals of the year. A report from accounting firm Deloitte, titled “The State of the Deal: M&A Trends 2019” noted that a strong economy, historically low interest rates and many industries in transition provided a rich mix of deal opportunities this year. “Corporations have increased cash, in part due to tax reform, and M&A remains the No. 1 intended use of those funds,” the report stated. “Corporate respondents from financial services, energy and resources, and telecommunications, media and technology industries were the most optimistic, in sequential order, on the likelihood for more deals.” As multiple industries evolve and merge, so does the motivation to make deals. The report, which surveyed more than 1,000 private equity and M&A specialists, found increased interest in acquisitions focused on diversifying products or services, expanding within existing geographic markets or reaching new geographic markets. Also, 12 percent of respondents said they would make deals to acquire talent. “For a number of years, corporations have been on a buying spree when it comes to acquiring underlying technology, but the price of tech is on the rise. Based on the latest survey results, there may be a pivot away from purchasing a company simply for its technology,” the report said. Of course, for every buyer there must be a seller. The report found companies decided to divest operations for financial gain, a change in strategy or the need to shed technology that no longer fits the business model, all cited by 16 percent of respondents. About 40 percent of respondents said that half their deals within the past two years failed to generate the expected value or return on investment. Most blamed external factors such as the economy, markets or government regulation. Because failure can be as instructive as success, this special report features a presentation on “Deals That Didn’t Work” in the final year of this decade. It also has a timeline for major transactions and agreements in the Valley economy.

Joel Russel
Joel Russel
Joel Russell joined the Los Angeles Business Journal in 2006 as a reporter. He transferred to sister publication San Fernando Valley Business Journal in 2012 as managing editor. Since he assumed the position of editor in 2015, the Business Journal has been recognized four times as the best small-circulation tabloid business publication in the country by the Alliance of Area Business Publishers. Previously, he worked as senior editor at Hispanic Business magazine and editor of Business Mexico.

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