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LOS ANGELES-The third quarter hosted fewer mergers and acquisitions than the second quarter and fewer billion-dollar deals, but aggregate deal value still rose substantially, according to a just-released report from Mergerstat.

Only 1,669 deals were announced in the U.S. Market between July 1 and Sept. 30, compared to 1,847 announcements from April through June, according to the M&A data provider. As well, there were two fewer billion-dollar deals in the third quarter. Nonetheless, Aggregate deal value rose from $104.6 billion in the second quarter to $151 billion in the third.

The biggest third-quarter deal was Pfizer’s agreement to buy Pharmacia for $58.3 billion, followed by Qwest Communications’ $7.1-billion sale of QwestDex Publishing Business to buyout firms Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe and The Carlyle Group. In the $3-billion to $4-billion range, AOL Time Warner has agreed to pay AT&T and Comcast $3.6 billion for the 27.64% of Time Warner Entertainment it didn’t already own, IBM’s $3.5-billion deal for PwC Consulting and Guidant’s $3.0 billion agreement to purchase Cook Group.

In the $500-million to $1-billion range, Mergerstat recorded 593 deal announcements, down from 657 in the third quarter. The aggregate deal value remained relatively close, however, dropping only $2.4 billion to $37.8 billion.

In Europe, the aggregate deal value fell along with the number of transactions in the third quarter. Transactions fell to 1,410 from 2,024 in the second quarter, and aggregate deal value fell from $110.9 billion to $78.3 billion, marking the lowest quarterly total in more than five years, according to Mergerstat. In the $500-million to $1-billion range, deal volume dropped to 570 from 809 in the second quarter. The largest deals were Corus Group’s $7.4 billion agreement to buy Companhia Siderurgica Nacional SA of Rio de Janiero, Brazil and E.ON’s $4.1 billion agreement to acquire Rurhrgas.

The top advisors on US and US cross-border deals for the third period, based on aggregate deal value, were Goldman Sachs & Co with $86.1 billion, Bear Stearns & Co with $69.2 billion, Lazard with $67.9 billion, Lehman Brothers with $27.8 billion, and JP Morgan Chase & Co with $24.1 billion. Ranked by the number deals, the top advisors were Credit Suisse First Boston (30), Lehman Brothers (25), JP Morgan Chase & Co (24), Goldman Sachs & Co and Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin (23 each), and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter (19).

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