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2022 in review – business milestones mark a year of pain and gain

While the tech industry notably recorded significant mergers and acquisitions, companies in other sectors were forced to close their doors for good. Could sustainability and purpose become the watchwords for successful business in 2023?
2022 In Review 6

Amid ongoing social, political and economic upheaval, big business has managed to hit some major financial highs – and lows – in 2022. 

In January, Apple became the first company to reach a stock market value of $3tn (£2.5tn). October marked one year since Facebook rebranded as Meta and presented its vision for the metaverse. And, after a lot of back and forth, Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter was finally confirmed. 

The biggest mergers and acquisitions of the year

Twitter wasn’t the only notable acquisition in 2022 – nor, at $44bn, was it the largest. In January, Microsoft bought video-game maker Activision Blizzard for $68.7bn, the biggest deal so far this year. The tech giant can now include some hugely popular games in its portfolio, not least Call of Duty and Candy Crush

In June, Oracle closed its biggest deal when it acquired health information technology firm Cerner for $28.3bn. And Microsoft expanded its influence once again when it acquired Nuance Communications, the AI company known for building the backend of Apple’s voice assistant, Siri. In recent years, Nuance has been a leading provider of conversational AI and clinical intelligence for healthcare providers and is a key part of Microsoft’s emerging healthcare industry cloud strategy.

Activity wasn’t all centred in the US. In July, Orange and Masmovil merged for €19.6bn (£17bn), becoming the new market leader in Spanish telecoms, while Dutch specialty chemicals maker DSM merged with its Swiss peer Firmenich in May to become a leading supplier of food ingredients and beauty products.

Autumn of discontent sees British companies going bust

But it wasn’t all boom time for business and the UK saw a number of beloved brands dissolve this autumn. 

Shirtmaker TM Lewin went into administration for the second time in less than two years, as the shift to working from home reduced demand for formal office wear. In mid-October, mattress maker Eve Sleep was sold to Bensons for Beds for just £600,000 after it brought in administrators.

Formerly one of the UK’s biggest digital success stories, furniture brand Made.com entered administration on 9 November, after over-extending its offering during a Covid-driven boom for home furnishings. Then, less than a week later, high street clothing firm Joules filed a notice to appoint administrators too. The retailer, who just last year finished building a multi-million pound HQ, has been one of the many brands hit by the slump in consumer spending. 

Is sustainability the secret to survival?

Perhaps the biggest business milestone of 2022 was one unfamiliar to the corporate world. In September, Yvon Chouinard, the billionaire founder of outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia, signed his company over to a charitable trust. Chouinard stated that any profit not reinvested in the running of the business would be redirected to help fight climate change in a move which has inspired some business leaders and baffled others. 

As organisations head into a new year overshadowed by high inflation, skills shortages and political disruption, a renewed focus on, and commitment to, purpose could be the real secret to prosperity.