The total value of direct marketing transactions -- which includes mergers, acquisitions, initial public offerings and strategic alliances -- increased 59 percent to a record $23 billion for the first six months of the year. The number of transactions was up 52 percent while merger and acquisition activity rose 87 percent and strategic alliances 93 percent, according to a report issued this week by investment bank Gruppo, Levey and Capell, New York. Nearly 70 percent of acquisitions occurred in the catalog, agency, e-commerce, interactive services and computer services segments while 57 percent of IPOs were conducted by catalog, Web portal and e-commerce companies. Web-related companies also drove the trend toward joint ventures and new ventures.
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