The deals were there in 2013, but the money just wasn’t piled as high as previous years for oilfield services, according to a report by Brian Uhlmer, an analyst with Global Hunter Securities (GHS).

Oilfield service M&A transactions increased to 332, up 10% from 2012. However, total deal value of about $15.9 billion declined by 37% year over year. The difference maker: 2012 saw six transactions over $1 billion in 2012, and only two in 2013.

Aker Solutions ASA (OSE: AKSO.OL) was the most active acquirer, with four transactions.

As is typical, the fourth quarter 2013 was the busiest, with 102 disclosed deals – the highest number of transactions in three years – valued at an aggregate of $3.5 billion. However, the second quarter of 2013 had the highest value, with $5.5 billion through 76 transactions.

Oilfield Services M&A Activity

Total Disclosed Deal Value Average Deal Value Size

4Q13

4Q12

2013

2012

Average Implied Enterprise

102

79

332

301

Value/Revenues

$3,494

$9,485

$15,940 

$25,227 

Average Implied Enterprise

$76

$271

$99 

$187 

Value/NTM Revenue

9.6x

2.5x

4.2x

2.4x

Average Implied Equity

2.0x

2.3x

2.9x

2.5x

Value/Book Value

3.7x

2.4x

2.4x

2.0x

Average Implied Enterprise

5.9x

7.4x

9.3x

8.4x

Value/NTM EBITDA

12.5x

28.4x

14.6x

23.9x

Source: GHS

“Moving into 2014, we believe that as the trough has been established, slow growth is ahead and balance sheets are in decent shape that the market is ripe for M&A, especially in the offshore drilling space,” Uhlmer said.

Top deals included GE's (NYSE: GE) purchase of Lufkin Industries for $3.4 billion, AMEC's (LSE: AMEC.L) acquisition of Kentz Corp. Ltd. (LSE: KENZ.L) for $1.1 billion and Oaktree Capital Group LLC (NYSE: OAK) agreeing to acquire UMW China Ventures Ltd. for $870 million.

The average disclosed net 12 months' earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) multiple was 9.3x, which compares to the 7.1x average multiple GHS' coverage currently trades for.