Media M&A activity declines

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New York--Mergers and acquisitions in the publishing, information, training and trade show industries declined in the third quarter compared with a year earlier, according to investment bank Whitestone Communications Inc.

The number of M&A deals declined to 87 from 95, while the value of the deals plunged 85% to $664 million.

Major investments in these industries also declined in the third quarter. Whitestone tracked 10 investments worth a total of $107 million in the third quarter, down from 30 investments worth $299 million a year earlier.

"We saw a slight uptick a few months ago and it looked like the market was turning around, but it's slowing back down again," said Sharon Sevrens, managing director of Whitestone. "There's so much uncertainty in the world right now, with the volatility of the stock market, the possibility of war in Iraq, sniper shootings in D.C. and continued concern about another terrorist attack."

The company will publish its results in detail in its "Who's Buying Whom" report.

"The longer the recession continues, the more likely it is we'll start seeing more fire sales from companies desperate to do deals because they can't survive on their own," Sevrens said. Most troubling was her observation that "we've seen [publishing] companies historically successful with direct mail marketing not being successful anymore."

--Carol Krol

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