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Tampa Bay’s billion-dollar year: 10 blockbuster deals that defined 2021

For all the startups and upstarts that moved to Tampa Bay or went public in 2021, it was the biggest deals that rocked the boat the most.

From a merger that spawned the area’s largest public company to a local startup that hit a billion-dollar “unicorn” valuation, this year brought an unusually hefty slate of billion-dollar sales, acquisitions and earnings sheets to Tampa Bay C suites. Some of them are likely to have a big impact on local employment and investment for years to come.

Every deal and investment is different. But a combination of evolving corporate models, low interest rates and Florida’s generally favorable business environment made 2021 a particularly viable year for such megadeals, said Zac Smith, a senior vice president with financial advisory firm Embark, which specializes in corporate mergers and acquisitions.
“Fed rates are low, capital is cheap,” Smith said. “Despite everything we’re hearing on the news — and I think Florida is different as a whole — people feel more comfortable operating in this environment. Now is the time to cash in on some of those deals. People are making some money and really able to capitalize.”

There’s surely more ahead in 2022, as the Rays (valued by Forbes this summer at $1 billion) ponder their future home (or homes); and the $3.5 billion Water Street Tampa development wraps its first phase and begins work on its second. At least one Fortune 500 company, said to be Foot Locker, is exploring moving its corporate headquarters to St. Petersburg. And billions in federal infrastructure funding and unspent pandemic relief may flow into the region.
But before we get there, let’s revisit 10 of this year’s 10-figure deals that reshaped Tampa Bay’s corporate landscape.

Tech Data becomes TD Synnex

At the time it was sold to private equity firm Apollo Global Management in 2020, Largo’s Tech Data was Tampa Bay’s largest public company, with annual revenues around $37 billion, good enough for a spot in the Fortune 100. Its private phase ended up lasting less than a year. The technology distribution company in March announced an $8.3 billion merger with Fremont, Calif.’s Synnex, creating a corporation with combined annual revenues of $57 billion, 22,000 employees and 150,000 clients in more than 100 countries. The newly rechristened TD Synnex is co-headquartered in Fremont and Largo with significant operations near Greenville, S.C. Tech Data CEO Rich Hume, who still lives in the area, stayed on as TD Synnex’s CEO. All of that makes TD Synnex Tampa Bay’s largest public company, even if it’s only half-headquartered here.

The war for Welbilt

As restaurants struggled early in the pandemic, so did New Port Richey commercial kitchen equipment supplier Welbilt, perennially one of Tampa Bay’s largest public companies. That didn’t stop Illinois competitor Middleby Corp. from offering a 28 percent premium for Welbilt shares in an April all-stock offer worth $4.3 billion…


To read the original article by Jay Cridlin from the Tampa Bay Times, click here.