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Winds of change push M&A deals higher

Bell Canada Enterprises chief executive officer George Cope, left, and Ian Greenberg, CEO of Astral Media Inc., speak at a news conference to announce their merger deal.

CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/REUTERS

The winds of change blew a little harder this year, pushing up the values of the M&A deals announced in 2012.

Thomson Reuters recently crunched the numbers and found that the mergers and acquisitions announced so far in 2012 have been worth more cash than the same period last year. In the list of deals involving at least one Canadian company, the transaction totals were up 22 per cent to $68.6-billion. And even when limited to domestic-only activity the deals amounted to $28.7-billion of value–that's an 85 per cent increase from the first few months of 2011.

The energy and power sectors made up the most valuable cluster of M&A activity, just as the category did last year. Three of the top ten biggest deals fell in this category, with Provident Energy Ltd.'s sale to Pembina Pipeline Corp. being the most valuable at $3.7-billion. The other big movers were Pengrowth Energy Corp.'s oilsands growth play when it acquired NAL Energy Corp. for more than $1.8-billion, and a Suncor bid for its own shares worth over $1-billion.

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BCE Inc.'s grab for Astral Media Inc. , which gave Bell access to Quebec's specialty channel audience, was the second blockbuster deal on the list, worth $3.3-billion. And the infamous Agrium Inc. bid for part of Viterra Inc.'s agribusiness in march was fifth most valuable at $1.8-billion (the Viterra deal with Richardson International Ltd.was also on the list at number 11).

Notably, though, while all these deals contributed to more cash changing hands, the actual number of deals done in the period actually declined slightly, from 1,329 last year to 1,018 in 2012.

There was also some change in the involvement of advisors this year. In 2011's time period, BMO Capital Markets did the most deals of all the firms at 24, and BMO also brought the most money through the door with about $15.5-billion. But this year it lost that top spot to RBC Capital Markets which closed 37 deals with a total value of $21.5-billion.

Coming in second and third on this list of top advisors were TD Securities and Bank of America Merrill Lynch–both with a little more than $16-billion in work done. Although, to BMO's credit, the company still had the second-highest number of deals walk through the door at 12.

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About the Author
Financial Services Reporter

Jacqueline Nelson is a financial services reporter at the Report on Business. Prior to that she was a staff writer at Canadian Business magazine, covering news and writing features on a wide variety of subjects. More

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