Turning Down the Trade Sale

Includes: CA, HPQ, NOK, OMTR
by: 451 Research: Inorganic Growth

by Brenon Daly

Since the Wall Street crisis erupted last fall, the M&A advice most companies have gotten has been not to sell unless they absolutely have to. That sentiment has quieted overall dealmaking activity, as well as pressured valuations across the board. It turns out that not even promising startups could escape the malaise. Yesterday afternoon, Tim Miller,our head of financial markets, presented our findings on the status of the AlwaysOn Global 250 to the seventh annual Summit at Stanford University. One key finding about the AO 250 startups: only 12 companies sold in the year since the previous conference, which is just half the number in each of the three previous years. Tech giants that have picked up AO 250 startups since the last conference include CA Inc (NASDAQ:CA), Omniture (OMTR), Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ).

While the number of trade sales declined notably for AO 250 companies, there was a significant pickup in the other exit option, an IPO. Three AO 250 companies managed to make it to the public markets over the past year, creating an aggregate market valuation of some $2.5bn. Those offerings came despite talk about the IPO window being closed. Further, all of them are trading above their issue price even though the broader market has been rather inhospitable lately.