Starbursting is essentially breaking companies up into more profitable pieces and despite me not being familiar with the term until recently, it is apparently seeing a revival at present according to The Economist.
Notable mentions of rumoured or high profile starbursts include Pfizer, Motorola, Fiat and Foster’s. The Economist cites the main reasons for the revival as:
… companies seeking buyers for parts of their business are not getting good offers from other firms, or from private equity.
…the “conglomerate discount”—when stockmarkets value a diversified group at less than the sum of its parts.
…that this discount is real seems to be confirmed by the positive stockmarket reaction to the latest starbursts. From 20 days before the announcement of a spin-off to 60 days after, the combined value of the parent and spun-off children has on average outperformed the market by eight percentage points
This trend is much more common in the US and Western Europe with emerging markets seeing the opposite,….hence a popular alternative seems to be diversification.
This may be why, in some parts of the world, conglomerates are becoming even more diversified: witness Samsung Electronics, which is moving into pharmaceuticals.America’s big tech firms are also bucking the starburst trend and diversifying. Oracle, a software giant, has moved into hardware, and Hewlett-Packard, a computer-maker, is expanding further into software and services. Their big corporate customers increasingly want a one-stop shop for their information systems.
Whichever path an organisation chooses to take, one thing is for sure, excellent communications will be imperative both with investment audiences but also customers and prospects. Interesting times for PR.