It's been a quiet year overall for mergers and acquisitions. The economic downturn and credit situation nearly halted activity for several companies known for expansion through acquisition, including Illinois Tool Works and Eaton. But there are signs a shift is beginning to occur.
Speaking at the J.P. Morgan Diversified Industries Conference last week, Illinois Tool Works CFO Ron Kropp said: "At the beginning of the year we saw almost no activity at all, not even discussion level activity. What we've seen at least recently is a little bit more of what I would call discussions."
Kropp, and Eaton CEO Sandy Cutler speaking at the same conference, don't expect real activity to pick up until 2010. But those discussions are the first step toward restarting real acquisition activity.
There's still a lot of uncertainty about what that new activity will look like and how much there will be. So the best course of action may be to follow ITW's example: prepare your company now to take advantage of the deals when they do come along.
Read M&A Market Shows Signs of Life to get the outlook on the M&A market from industry experts.