more digital IPOs expected as M&A dries up

Posted on August 26, 2010

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In an eye-catching report earlier this week, New York investment bank Peachtree Media Advisors said there had been a surge in digital media deal-making during the first half of the year; the volume of transactions was up 68 percent, the bank said, while their total dollar value more than doubled. Each category Peachtree tracks, with the exception of lead generation and search, was up. We followed up with Peachtree Managing Director John Doyle II to get his thoughts on the second half; the big takeaways, below.

More IPOs coming: Doyle says that there will be more digital media IPOs, as opposed to large acquisitions, because large media companies are still hesitant to make big purchases. “You’ve got traditional media companies that are still hurting,” he says. “I don’t think there would be a buyer for Demand Media or Hulu.”

The top acquirer right now is Google (NSDQ: GOOG), but, beyond that company, the roster of potential acquirers is slim. Even the majority of Google’s recent acquisitions, Doyle notes, have been for less than $100 million.

Look for ‘surgical’ deals: Merger and acquisition activity, he says, will therefore be relegated to “smaller, strategic” deals, which he describes as being “almost surgical acquisitions.” He cites Yahoo’s recent purchase of Associated Content as an example.

“These are going to be companies that they’ve known,” he says. “Nobody wants to pull a Bebo. People want to make small strategic acquisitions that they know are going to fit very well.”

Doyle’s picks for categories likely to see the most activity in the second half—analytics (“always going to be needed”) and social games, which Peachtree says in its report will be “one of the hottest areas of expected M&A activity as strategic buyers jostle for position in this area.”

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