Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) for the first half of 2009 fell off the map, both literally and figuratively. With few deals being finalized-and many being held up until the global credit markets rebounded-it was a difficult time to expand to new regions.

According to Mesirow Financial, only $3.9 billion in global M&A volume in packaging deals occurred in the first half of 2009, compared to more than 3.5 times that volume two years ago. A litany of woes conspired to stop M&A deals cold in their tracks, according to Mesirow: Deteriorating business conditions, falling stock prices, corporate restructurings, bankruptcies and creditmarket contractions were the main culprits.

Tellingly, many more prominent companies entered bankruptcy protection in the first half of the year than did deals. The Chapter 11 list included Smurfit-Stone Container, AbitibiBowater, Fraser Papers, and Pliant.

Mesirow officials also noted that about $400 billion of private equity money has been raised but not invested. With stock prices starting to inch upward and debt markets opening, perhaps some of that money can find a home.

Reprinted with permission from Packaging Strategies newsletter, a sister business of Flexible Packaging. For more info, visit www.packstrat.com.