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BtoB

Several factors driving pickup in dealmaking

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Jeffrey Stevenson is managing partner of private equity company Veronis Suhler Stevenson. Media Business: To what do you attribute the recent surge in media M&A activity, particularly in the b-to-b media sector? Jeffrey Stevenson: It's a combination of factors, including banks lending again. There are a lot more attractive deals on the market (and) multiples are higher; so sellers are finding that they can get deals done at better valuations. It's the deal flow that's generating the activity and the fact that the companies (being sold) are better quality than they have been in the past. Credit lines are loosening up at both the small end and upper end of the marketplace. Leverage levels are still conservative, but at least there is lending. The bank wholesale market is more active, so there's more of a syndication marketplace for midsize deals. MB: What is your outlook for the remainder of the year? Stevenson: That flow is going to continue, particularly driven by some of the tax consideration for year-end. So I think there's going to be a fair bit of activity in the fourth quarter. Inevitably, things will go into next year; there's a large private equity overhang from funds raised pre-2008 that are coming to expiring investment periods, so (deal activity) is probably going to carry through the end of next year.
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