BusinessWeek: Apple Stepping Up Acquisitions, M&A Resources

Apple has been stepping up its corporate acquisitions, and with the help of former Goldman Sachs investment banker Adrian Perica, the company is increasing its mergers and acqusitions (M&A) efforts and resources. In a column for BusinessWeek, Peter Burrows wrote that while Apple isn't likely to begin making multi-billion dollar mergers any time soon, the company is becoming more organized in its efforts to grow the company through outside acquisitions.

Apple has made only 11 acquisitions since Steve Jobs returned to the helm of the company in 1997, and three of those have been in the last five months (music site Lala, mobile ad company Quattro Wireless, and mapping company PlaceBase). Other tech companies of Apple's size tend to be substantially more acquisitive, buying companies large and small.

Apple, however, has focused on "very, very small" companies, according to Bill Whyman, an analyst with International Strategy & Investment. Another unnamed investment banker told BusinessWeek added that, "[Apple has] always gone slow on M&A, but that's changing."

The reason behind the increase in activity is, in part, due to the fact that Apple is expanding into new markets. That kind of expansion has resulted in the company needing more help from outside sources than the in-house approach the company relied on most often in the past.

According to Mr. Burrow's column, Apple has an ad hoc approach to acquisitions. Company execs were instructed to keep an eye out for deals that made sense for Apple, and the exec who brought the deal to CEO Steve Jobs would then be tasked with assembling a team that would carry out the negotiations and make the deal.

That changed, however, when the company lost out on acquiring AdMob to Google, in part because the lack of a dedicated M&A team resulted in the company being slower than its more organized and acquisitive competitors. The solution to this was the hiring of ex-military man cum banker Adrian Perica.

"Their [business] model is evolving, and you can expect them to broaden their horizons," Mr. Whyman told BusinessWeek.