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Last updated: Inside Word

In this issue: the Mid-Market M&A Conditions Index, specialty shops and new M&A products and services

In this issue, we introduce the Mid-Market M&A Conditions Index (MACI), an important new barometer that measures dealmaking activity in the middle market. Created by Mergers & Acquisitions and published in partnership with PwC, the MACI is based on a monthly survey of executives at private equity firms, corporations, investment banks, law firms and other M&A advisory firms. Participants answer questions about various activities, including actionable leads seen, letters of intent or engagement signed, transactions closed and divestitures made. Other components of the survey cover deal quality, bidders, availability of financing and level of M&A staffing.

The MACI is a diffusion index, with readings above 50 showing expansion and below 50 indicating contraction. At 57.7, the initial reading, based on polling dealmakers in October, showed a modest uptick in activity, a sign that may bode well for the middle market in the fourth quarter. We invite you to participate in the new research project. Please see our website, www.themiddlemarket.com, for details.

One sector that has seen a lot of M&A throughout the year is retail. In this issue's cover story by reporter Allison Collins, it's specialty shops that are creating new opportunities for well-known retailers. The Gap Inc.'s (NYSE: GAP) $130 million purchase of the Intermix Holdco Inc. chain embodies the trend.

Also in this issue is contributing editor Danielle Fugazy's look at new products and services, including newcomer Independent Studios, which produces video tours for companies seeking buyers. Also see assistant managing editor Anthony Noto's The Buyside column, which showcases SFX Entertainment Inc. (Nasdaq: SFXE), an electronic-music festival producer that has been snatching up competitors.

Finally, we give heartfelt congratulations to Harry Nikpour, who SourceMedia Inc. has promoted from publisher of Mergers & Acquisitions to vice president, capital markets; and we bid a fond farewell to Michael Stanton, former senior vice president, capital markets, who joined bond insurance company Build America Mutual as head of corporate strategy and communications in November.