Thirty-two merger and acquisition deals took place in the first quarter of the year, compared to 30 in the last quarter of 2016 and 30 in the first quarter of 2016, according to a report by Baker Tilly Capital LLC, a Philadelphia-based investment banking and M&A advisory firm.
Baker Tilly primarily deals in transactions valued between $5 million and $20 million. Its Central Pennsylvania statistics include transactions in the Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lehigh Valley, Reading, Altoona and Williamsport areas.
The slight uptick in the first quarter of 2017 follows 2016’s 25 percent decrease in M&A activity for the year as a whole. Some analysts speculated that political uncertainty leading up to the presidential election last year led businesses to hold off on deal-making until they could gain a better idea of what kind of climate to expect over the coming four years.
Nationally, the number of transactions was down overall at the start of 2017, but Baker & Tilly notes in its report that comparing recent performance to that of the past couple years might not be entirely fair given the “white hot” M&A environment that emerged in the post-recession economy. Although the number of transactions was down, 2016 was still a good year for M&A.
Companies were also generally willing to pay more for acquisitions in the first quarter of 2017, driven by perceived market stability and strong stock market performance, according to the report.
Notable transactions in the midstate so far this year have included accounting firm Boyer & Ritter‘s purchase of Mechanicsburg-based Waggoner, Frutiger & Daub and Keller-Brown Insurance Services’ acquisition of H. N. Fishel and Associates Inc. of Red Lion.