By Weston Blasi, MarketWatch
The 2020 Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, a gathering of important executives sometimes referred to as “summer camp for billionaires,” has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MarketWatch has learned.
Sun Valley conference director Meg Kelty Lawler responded to an email from a MarketWatch reporter seeking to attend the event by stating that it had been canceled, which previously has not been announced publicly. Other Allen & Co. representatives did not respond to repeated follow-up requests for comment on this story.
The annual invite-only conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, is hosted by Allen & Co., a private investment bank based in New York City. The July event is attended by major players in tech, media, business and politics — some of the most powerful people in the world show up every year.
Last year’s attendees include Microsoft Corp. /zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite MSFT +2.28% co-founder Bill Gates, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. /zigman2/quotes/208872451/composite BRK.A +0.44% Chief Executive Warren Buffett, Apple Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL +3.75% CEO Tim Cook, Disney /zigman2/quotes/203410047/composite DIS +1.23% Executive Chairman Bob Iger, and Facebook Inc. /zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite FB +2.12% CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
With so many major decision makers in one location, Sun Valley became an event in which negotiations for major tech and media acquisitions have been set in motion. Such deals reportedly include Amazon.com Inc. /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN +2.49% CEO Jeff Bezos’s purchase of The Washington Post, Verizon Communications Inc.’s /zigman2/quotes/204980236/composite VZ +0.34% acquisition of Yahoo and the AOL-Time Warner merger.
Global mergers and acquisitions activity has already seen a dramatic drop due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Democratic lawmakers Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have proposed a ban on mergers and acquisitions during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to data and analytics company GlobalData, M&A deal volume and value world-wide began declining in the first quarter of 2020, as the coronavirus was spreading in China and then around the world. The number of M&A deals dropped from 2,349 in February to 1,984 in March. M&A volume in the first quarter was also significantly lower than the last quarter of 2019, down 35% globally, according to Dealogic.
The cancelation of the star-studded event comes amid a number of other closures of high-profile events across the globe, including South by Southwest, E3 and the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Many events have moved to some form of digital experience in place of outright cancelation.