Year in Review: Tech mergers and acquisitions in 2009


The past year may have seen plenty of markets fall into a recession but regardless of tough times on the books, some companies have had their cheque books out ready to grab an opportunity.

We take a look at the biggest business dealings of the past year.

Oracle looks to the Sun

At the very beginning of the year we knew Sun Microsystems was going to be taken over. The question that lingered on for some months however was who by?

We were all pretty convinced that IBM was the only contender at the start of the year as talks between the companies grew speculation.

Yet they all seemed to fall apart in March and when Larry Ellison's database company Oracle entered the affray, Sun accepted its bid of $7.4 billion in April.

Work towards the acquisition began and it was all smiles for the two companies but fears began to grow in the industry about what would happen to Sun's hardware and whether it would be fair for Oracle to have both its own database and MySQL.

US courts were more than happy to approve the acquisition but when it came to the other side of the Atlantic the European Commission were less than convinced.

The commission launched an anti-trust enquiry to examine whether the ownership of both databases would be good or bad for competition and until the verdict is announced in January both Sun and Oracle will just have to sit tight.

Microsoft and Yahoo team up at last!

The rumblings of this deal between two of the largest search companies the internet has known until Google showed up of course began not this year but back in 2008.

However, it has taken the two firms this long to get it all together and have terms they now mutually accept.

After Carol Bartz was put in place as chief executive at the beginning of the year no-one was sure what would happen. She started off saying her company was not going to be sold off or pulled apart but by May this has changed to the need for "boatloads" of cash to partner with them on Search.

That very month Microsoft launched its own search engine called Bing but Bartz continued to protest that this would not lure her into a deal with the company.

As the months went on rumours began to spread again that a $3 billion deal for a tie-up on search and advertising was set to be announced but this had happened before and nobody was 100 per cent sure.

Then in July, the unthinkable happened and rumours were confirmed. The 10 year deal would see Microsoft running search operations whilst Yahoo would look after sales for both firms.

Bartz changed her tune and said this deal offered the company "boatloads" of value for the company.

Yet both companies are still waiting for the necessary approvals from the US and Europe before the deal can truly go ahead and they can take on their biggest competitor, Google.

The future's bright

The state of the mobile market and its five operators has remained the same for some time now and we all knew where we stood.

But this year speculation grew and grew as the failing UK arm of Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile, needed either a merger or acquisition coming its way to keep it going.

At the end of June the first rumour came about that Vodafone was looking to buy the company which would result in an already sizeable market share of 25 per cent rising to 40 per cent.

The rumours didn't stop here though and once September came around it was reported that both Vodafone and O2, the current market share leader, were putting in bids of between 3.5 billion and 4 billion for the 15 per cent market share holder.

All these rumours were soon blown out of the water though when just a day later Orange and T-Mobile confirmed they were going into a 50:50 deal, making them the biggest phone operator in the UK.

Last month both parent companies, Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom, signed the final merger agreement that would give the venture 28.4 million customers and 37 per cent market share but as with our two previous deals, approval is still needed from the competition commission to ensure it all goes through.

Yes or no in 2010?

So some exciting deals have been dealt this year with some of the world's biggest and most influential companies.

Yet we will have to wait until 2010 to see if all these deals get the thumbs up from the regulators or whether all these deals turn into the pipe dreams of 2009.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.