NEW YORK — So far, 2004 is turning out to be a blockbuster year for apparel mergers and acquisitions.

According to data compiled by Factset Mergerstat, the 108 deals in the first half of 2004 had a total disclosed value of $5.83 billion, a 110.4 percent gain over the 100 deals valued at $2.77 billion in the same period last year.

In 2003, the 182 disclosed deals, both here and abroad, reached $4.54 billion, according to revised data from Factset, which is a leading provider of U.S. and international M&A information to the investment banking and corporate markets.

The latest data also show 2004’s first half outpacing 2001’s full-year transactional total of $5.77 billion on 158 deals. The dollar amount for the first six months of 2004 for announced deals is also more than half of the total value of deals — $8.57 billion on 152 marriages — in 1999, a stellar year for mergers and acquisitions.

Of course, the number of deals in the first half of 2004 include Pinault Printemps Redoute’s $3.5 billion swallow of Gucci Group in March, which will likely remain the deal of the year as far as dollar volume. Following Gucci, the second-highest transaction was VF Corp.’s $396 million acquisition of Vans Inc. Jones Apparel Group took third place with its $345.52 million buy of Maxwell Shoe Co. Inc. Polo Ralph Lauren followed with its acquisition of RL Childrenswear Co. for $250 million in a deal announced in May.

Of the 108 deals so far this year, U.S.-based firms led way, with 34 on the buy side. Following the U.S. lead for buyers, Hong Kong-based firms led the way among Asian firms at 12. Malaysia and Japan were next, with each country having 8 firms involved in purchase agreements. Among the European countries, Italy was first at 7 transactions, followed by France with 5 deals.

U.S.-based firms also led the way among sellers, with 31 companies looking for marriage partners. Japanese firms came in second, with 10 companies seeking a merger. Hong Kong was third, with 6 firms, and Chinese and Malaysian firms tied at five companies from each country. Among the European firms, Italy again beat out France, at nine and six, respectively.

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