With three mergers totaling more than $110 billion in just the past week, 2014 could be the year of the megamerger, as cash-rich companies hunt for growth in a sluggish economy.
Merger experts say they see evidence that the current environment could be the best for deals since the financial crisis began, and there is pent up demand for acquisitions, put off in the last couple of years by disruptions like the European sovereign crisis or budget showdowns in Washington.
The latest deal was Facebook's surprise bid for WhatsApp for $16.4 billion, or $19 billion when including restricted stock. The deal is the fifth-biggest tech deal ever, and pushes tech mergers to a total of $42 billion year-to-date, the heftiest volume since the tech merger mania in the dotcom bubble era of 2000, according to Thomson Reuters.
"All these companies are flush with cash and need to do something with it," said Andrew Burkly, head of institutional portfolio strategy at Oppenheimer Asset Management. "I would definitely say companies and CEOs probably feel a little more comfortable that their stock has a high value at this point."