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Florida merger activity more than doubles over the year

Florida is once again a big deal — or at least a place for big deals.

Dealmakers have closed on more than $29 billion in major mergers statewide so far this year. That's more than double the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) total of just under $14 billion from the first three quarters of 2012, according to a report released Thursday by deal tracker Mergermarket Group. The volume of deals nationally was up 23 percent over the same time.

About $19 billion in deals statewide were cemented in the third quarter alone, making it the strongest period for Florida since the third quarter of 2007, just as the Great Recession was starting to take hold.

The number of deals statewide so far this year is actually slightly down: 117 compared with 115 for the first three quarters of 2012.

Mergermarket said that was because of more large-cap acquisitions. In the previous five years, Florida posted only one deal worth more than $2 billion. This year, in contrast, there have been three such deals so far worth a combined value of $15.7 billion.

Tops among all Florida deals: Community Health Systems' $7 billion acquisition of the hospital chain run by Naples-based Health Management Associates. The mega-merger, announced in July, brought four Tampa Bay area hospitals into the fold of Tennessee-based Community Health. One of the hospitals changing hands was St. Petersburg's nonprofit Bayfront Health, which had just merged with the for-profit Health Management Associates earlier in the year.

Other top deals so far in 2013: cell tower operator American Tower Corp.'s $4.8 billion acquisition of Global Tower; Fidelity National's purchase of Lender Processing Services for $3.8 billion; Essilor International's $1.9 billion purchase of a controlling stake in Pinellas Park-based Transitions Optical from PPG Industries; and Stryker Corp.'s $1.3 billion acquisition of MAKO Surgical Corp.

Pharma, medical and biotech remained Florida's dominant sector by deal value (17 deals worth a combined $8.9 billion). However, the industrial chemicals sector was busiest based on sheer number of transactions (19 deals worth $3.2 billion).

Credit Suisse jumped 26 spots to become the state's top financial adviser, playing a role in nine deals worth $15.7 billion.

Jeff Harrington can be reached at jharrington@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8242.

Florida merger activity more than doubles over the year 10/17/13 [Last modified: Thursday, October 17, 2013 8:41pm]
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