Saturday, December 24, 2005

Holiday Time - M&A Time

I'm enjoying my first Christmas in at least 4 years in which I'm not neck deep in a deal. To judge by the spate of recently-announced transactions, I'm in the minority this year.

I spent nearly all of December 2001 in New York, working on a deal that we walked from abruptly as wireless valuations cratered rapidly in early January 2002. The following December saw a similar scene, only this time a much bigger deal that never made it out of Seattle before having the plug pulled. So much of this work is spent on things that never come to fruition . . .

December 2003 marked the beginning of the process of selling AT&T Wireless. I remember having a particularly acrimonious call with my counterpart at one of the bidders a day or two before Christmas, and then taking out some frustration by felling several trees that had been damaged in an ice storm the night before (the short-handled axe is an underappreciated tool). By last December, I was living a different kind of frustration, dealing with Cingular and its parents as we tried to divest several hundred million dollars of assets to comply with the DOJ's consent decree on the merger.

What is it about the holidays that brings out such a frenzy of deal-making? Does the winter's waning daylight, forcing us indoors, cause the kind of corporate conjugation New Yorkers would associate with blackouts? Or is it just the draw of doing holiday shopping in Midtown Manhattan?

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