Media M&As down 40 per cent in 2009

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Last year, media deals in the UK hit their lowest level since the dot-com crash, tumbling 40 per cent, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), as chief executives focused on cutting costs and sorting out debt issues.

The media industry has been smashed by the collapse in ad revenues, forcing executives to concentrate on internal issues. Yet, PwC said the transformation of traditional media companies to digital, the continued cut in debt and a strengthening economy all pointed to a rise in M&A this year. There were just 29 media deals completed in the UK last year, worth €2.7bn, down from 45 the previous year, worth a total €4.1bn. Deals last year included the €612m secondary buyout of Wood MacKenzie, Playfish's €281m takeover by Electronic Arts and the €107m sale of to France's Meetic. Andy Morgan, a partner at PwC, said that only "exceptional assets" were saleable. Yet he added: "A rapid recovery in value and volume followed the dot com crash, and we expect history to repeat itself with 2010 seeing a return to form."