The AZ of TMT

There’s no denying that 2013 has been a stellar year for the TMT sector. The enormous £84bn Vodafone / Verizon deal practically blew every other M&A deal out of the water, with Liberty Global’s £14.9bn acquisition of Virgin Media also making a considerable splash.

It’s hardly surprising then, that one of the biggest listed company buyouts of 2013 – and one of only a handful with a value of £1bn – has a distinctly TMT slant. Perhaps more surprising, is that it’s for one of the world’s biggest pharma companies.

German drugs and chemicals group Merck has agreed to acquire AZ Electronic Materials in an all-cash deal worth £1.6bn.

It’s reportedly part of the pharma company’s strategy to diversify its offering. Alongside cancer drugs and lab equipment, Merck is already the world’s largest manufacturer of liquid crystals, which are used in TV’s, tablets and smartphones.

It is thought that picking up British company AZ Electronics will help the German giant to expand in the touch-screen market.

Allen & Overy has taken a lead role for longstanding client Merck, led by corporate partners Richard Browne and Michael Ulmer.

Clifford Chance represented AZ, with corporate partner Tim Lewis taking the helm. Meanwhile, Ashurst has been instructed by Merck’s financial advisor Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Whatever the outcome of the bid, it’s clear that TMT is the place to be.

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