13 Oct, 2008
SAN FRANCISCO -- The financial storm has sowed panic on Wall Street and frozen all manner of business activity.

Yet tech firms are still opening their wallets and shopping around. A slew of Silicon Valley's marquee names have announced sizeable acquisitions in the midst of the crisis -- reflecting the dealmaking advantages that tech firms have in the current environment and raising questions about the firms' prospects going forward.

Among the most recent deals are Symantec's(SYMC Quote) $695 million bid for MessageLabs, Hewlett-Packard's(HPQ Quote) $360 million bid for LeftHand Neworks and eBay's(EBAY Quote) $1.3 billion to snap up a trio of companies.

In the three weeks since Sept. 15, when the financial crisis began its latest and most destructive phase, a total of 105 M&A deals were announced by U.S. tech companies, according to the market research firm Dealogic.

That's an increase from the three-week period immediately prior to the turmoil, when only 77 tech deals were announced, and it's up from the 99 deals announced in the comparable period one year ago.

Whether or not that uptick proves to be a statistical aberration -- after all, tech M&A deals in the first nine months of 2008 are down 35% year over year -- it appears at the very least that the anxiety suddenly infecting the financial markets has not spelled the end of dealmaking for tech companies.

"Regardless of what's going on in the financial marketplace, tech M&A is a function of the growth and the creativity" of the business, says Roger Aguinaldo, managing director of Forest Hills Capital Management and publisher of M&A Advisor.

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