Are M&As Going MIA? — Some Deals To Watch

Are some recent, and some planned, mergers and acquisitions in trouble? The New York Times' Andrew Sorkin and's Steven Davidoff took a look at the top deals that investors should pay close attention to.

Even deals that have closed are in trouble, they say. Four buyout-backed companies went out of business in the last week alone. If the companies start liquidating, that's a bad sign.
This climate will test the mettle of the dealmakers.

Things are slow, but the smart firms will keep investing. There will be others that will cut back because they are panicked, or because their companies are in trouble.

CKX/Robert Sillerman & Simon Fuller:
CKX is the owner of the American Idol brand; six months after announcement the proxy statement for the deal has yet to be filed and the financing appears yet to be firmly committed.

Cumulus Media/Merrill Lynch:Radio is in trouble, and Merrill Lynch doesn't want to be on the hook. Maybe not even with Cumulus Media .

Blackstone Group/Alliance Data:Blackstone says it can't complete the deal due to objections by federal banking regulators. Alliance Data sued, saying Blackstone promised to make a reasonable effort to work with regulators. Blackstone has countersued. Blackstone has also proven its willingness to walk away from deals (it put the kibosh on the PHH deal last week). Lawsuits are not a great harbinger of deals closing.

Bain Capital/3Com: It looks like a great deal between Bain Capital and 3Com , but it has regulatory issues because it would give China's Huawei Technologies a 16.5% stake in the company. This could be another Dubai Ports World type of story. t's gotten stuck in the second stage of Federal regulatory review, which does not bode well. The merger agreement contains a reverse termination fee of $110 million falling to $66 million if the financing is unavailable, which could happen. Also in govt review by CIFIUS Covad Communications/Platinum Equity — No reverse breakup fee!

Bain & Thomas Lee/Clear Channel:
Everyone insists the deal between Bain & Thomas Lee and Clear Channel will close but it has taken so long! Price of offer was ridiculous, and now it's even more ridiculous. Under the terms of the deal, it would not be that hard for Bain and Thomas Lee to walk away.

Fortress/Centerbridge/Penn National Gaming:
Any time regulatory bodies are involved, it does not bode well...on the other hand, Harrah's deal did recently manage to close.

Goldman Sachs/Myers Industries:
Goldman Sachs already has paid off the reverse termination fee and can walk away from Myers Industries scot-free after April 15, if it wants to.