15 of the Best Mergers & Acquisitions of 2017

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As 2018 fast approaches, we can't help but look back on the past 12 months, a year that was a whirlwind politically, socially, culturally, and economically.

While the U.S. dealt with everything from natural disasters and gun violence to protests about racial inequality and the sexual harassment reckoning, the stock market reached extraordinary highs.

The market hit 62 daily all-time highs in 2017, notes CNBC , and the S&P 500 has returned almost 20% so far. And, the top performing sector, technology, which is up around 38% year-to-date, surpassed the worst-performing sectors (energy and telecom) by over 43 percentage points.

Even with this overall positive economic sentiment, which has gotten a big boost from the new tax bill, merger and acquisition activity in 2017 has been relatively quiet; deals were down 35% year-to-date through mid-November.

The deals that were announced this year, though, were major, and revolved around some of the biggest consumer and technology names. Here are 15 of the best mergers and acquisitions of 2017.

1. Amazon Buys Whole Foods

Earlier this summer, e-commerce giant Amazon AMZN announced that it would be buying high-end organic grocery chain Whole Foods for $13.7 billion; the deal officially closed at the end of August. While the acquisition has been off to a rocky start, it gives Amazon hundreds of physical stores and provides the company a strong entryway into the competitive grocery and food industry.

2. Intel Acquires Mobileye

Intel INTC said in August that it had completed its tender offer for the outstanding shares of Mobileye, a company that develops sensors and cameras for Advanced Driver Assisted Systems (ADAS); the Israel-based company is also known for its computer vision and machine learning technology. The $15.3 billion deal gives Intel a huge advantage in the growing self-driving car industry, a market they estimate will grow to $70 billion annually by 2030.

3. United Technologies Buys Rockwell Collins

In a major industry deal, United Technologies UTX agreed to buy Rockwell Collins COL for roughly $23 billion. This is one of the biggest moves in aviation history, and gives rise to an aerospace giant that will focus on the manufacturing of aircraft parts like touchscreen cockpit displays and jet engines, among many other things. United plans to combine its aerospace business with Rockwell Collins, creating a new unit named Collins Aerospace Systems.

4. Disney To Buy Some of 21 st Century Fox's Assets

Just a few weeks ago, Disney DIS and 21 st Century Fox FOXA announced a historic $52.4 billion deal that would see Mickey Mouse's parent scoop up a good chunk of the media conglomerate's assets, including the film studio 20 th Century Fox, the company's TV production arm 20th Century Fox Television, Fox-owned cable networks (including FX and National Geographic), and FOXA's stakes in international networks like Star TV and Sky; Disney will also gain majority control of streaming service Hulu. The deal, however, will likely face intense regulatory scrutiny.

5. JAB Holdings Acquires Panera

For $7.5 billion, European investment firm JAB reached a deal to buy bakery-café chain Panera Bread earlier this year, creating a formidable food-focused portfolio that includes Keurig Green Mountain, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Peet's Coffee & Tea, and Caribou Coffee Company. Additionally, Panera is a restaurant that has managed to post steady comparable sales growth and rising revenue at a time when many chains are hurting.

6. Michael Kors Acquires Jimmy Choo

"Affordable" luxury retailer Michael Kors KORS agreed to buy footwear brand Jimmy Choo, a popular name in the fashion world known for its towering stilettos, for about $1.2 billion in July. The purchase had been a long-rumored one, and Kors plans on using its own massive global infrastructure to expand Jimmy Choo's footprint. This likely won't be Kors' last acquisition either, as the company is now focused on forming a new, "luxury group."

7. Coach Buys Kate Spade

Coach, now Tapestry Inc. TPR , shook up the fashion industry back in May when the company announced that it would be purchasing its smaller rival, Kate Spade, for $2.4 billion. The deal is both an effort to reach younger consumers-it recently signed a deal with millennial and Instagram icon Selena Gomez-and to rebrand itself as a broader "lifestyle assortment company."

8. CVS Buys Aetna

After weeks of rumors and speculation, drugstore chain CVS CVS announced that it would acquire insurance provider Aetna AET for $69 billion. The two companies said this blockbuster deal would rein in health care costs and transform CVS's 9,700 pharmacy storefronts into community medical hubs for primary care and basic procedures. It's expected to close in the second half of 2018, and is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.

9. Gilead Acquires Kite Pharma

In October, Gilead Sciences GILD shelled out $11.9 billion for Kite Pharma, marking its biggest acquisition ever. The deal gives the biopharmaceutical company access to a promising cancer therapy, and hopefully makes it less reliant on antiviral treatments like its Hepatitis C drug Sovaldi. In particular, the cancer therapy is a CAR-T drug, which many in the industry believe will transform the cancer treatment market.

10. Cisco Acquires BroadSoft

In a move that will grow its software footprint, Cisco CSCO paid nearly $2 billion for BroadSoft BSFT , a company that sells cloud-based call control software, a product that is often re-labeled and sold by traditional telephone companies to their customers. This acquisition is what IT vendors dub "the future of work," as it uses technology meant to make it easier for workgroups to communicate with each other.

11. Apple Buys Shazam

Recently, iPhone maker Apple AAPL confirmed that it has acquired Shazam for $400 million, a company that lets users identify songs, movies, TV shows, and commercials from short audio clips. The tech giant will be able to use Shazam to boost Apple Music. It also hopes to integrate Shazam more deeply into iOS, and utilize the app's augmented reality technology to improve its ARKit efforts.

12. Arby's Roark Buys Buffalo Wild Wings

Just last month, Arby's owner Roark Capital Group announced that it would be acquiring chicken wing chain Buffalo Wild Wings BWLD for $2.4 billion. Arby's has successfully executed a turnaround strategy by specifically emphasizing its unique fast-food menu selection; the firm hopes to apply this similar formula to Buffalo Wild Wings. Arby's will also assume the debt of BWLD.

13. Meredith Corp. Buys Time Inc.

The Meredith Corporation MDP closed a $2.8 billion deal in November to buy Time TIME that would create a publishing giant. The Des Moines-based Meredith publishes the magazines Better Homes and Gardens , Family Circle , and Shape , among others, while Time owns T ime , People , Sports Illustrated , Fortune , Entertainment Weekly , and many other print and digital media properties, and has been in business since 1922.

14. Discovery Acquires Scripps Networks Interactive

In November, Discovery's DISCA $14.6 billion acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive SNI received overwhelming shareholder support. The merger would unite two cable programming giants; Discovery owns the Discovery Channel, Investigation Discovery, OWN and TLC, while Scripp's portfolio includes the Food Network, HGTV and Travel Channel.

15. Google Buys Part of HTC Smartphone Team

This fall, Alphabet's GOOGL Google division confirmed that it plans to acquire part of HTC's mobile division team for $1.1 billion as it grows its smartphone hardware business. Google has become very serious about its hardware development with the debut of its Pixel line of smartphones, and scooping up a chunk of HTC's team means that the tech giant can better directly challenge Android partners like Samsung, LG, and Huawei.

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Cisco Systems, Inc. (CSCO): Free Stock Analysis Report

Walt Disney Company (The) (DIS): Free Stock Analysis Report, Inc. (AMZN): Free Stock Analysis Report

Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL): Free Stock Analysis Report

BroadSoft, Inc. (BSFT): Free Stock Analysis Report

Rockwell Collins, Inc. (COL): Free Stock Analysis Report

Scripps Networks Interactive, Inc (SNI): Free Stock Analysis Report

Apple Inc. (AAPL): Free Stock Analysis Report

United Technologies Corporation (UTX): Free Stock Analysis Report

Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD): Free Stock Analysis Report

Aetna Inc. (AET): Free Stock Analysis Report

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Mednax, Inc (MD): Free Stock Analysis Report

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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