Mega mergers return with pharma, tech buying sprees


Pharmaceutical and tech companies with huge cash stockpiles have gone on a buying spree this year, providing a long-awaited sign of life in an otherwise moribund market for mergers and acquisitions.

However, blockbuster deals like Roche's $46.8 billion takeover of Genentech or the $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems (JAVA) by Oracle (ORCL) represent a tiny fraction of M&A transactions, and smaller deals are still frozen thanks to the slumping economy and scarce credit for corporate borrowers. A revival may still be a long way off.

In the first three months of this year, there were five big-ticket deals worth a total of $52.1 billion, according to data compiled by Robert W. Baird & Co., an investment bank that specializes in smaller transactions. That's more than double the value of similar transactions during last year's first quarter.