Markets buoyant, merger activity picks up

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NEW YORK — What may have been the most auspicious deal of late was not the biggest or the most groundbreaking of mergers. It was just one that took a little gumption.

In September, Applied Materials, a California maker of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, agreed to acquire its rival, Tokyo Electron, in a deal valued at more than $9 billion.

As an all-stock, cross-border deal, it was the kind of tricky merger that telegraphed executives’ confidence and an appetite to make even slightly risky deals.

“It was when the light bulb went on,” a senior dealmaker said.

While global dealmaking was basically flat for a fourth consecutive year, annual volume in the United States was up 11 percent in 2013 compared with the previous year, according to Thomson Reuters.

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