At this point, it's safe to say the recent wave of private-equity megadeals is over.

Turbulence in the credit and equity markets has made multibillion-dollar deals look so distasteful that KKR and Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) pulled out completely from their proposed buyout of Harman International, and buyout firm JC Flowers, along with its consortium, is in a bit of a knock-down drag-out fight with SLM (NYSE:SLM) over the buyout they negotiated back in April.

For investment banks like Goldman, Lehman Brothers (NYSE:LEH), Merrill Lynch (NYSE:MER), and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), who were happier than pigs in filth collecting advisory fees and providing financing, the shift to "no deal" has been painful. Not only have they stopped stacking new, massive PE deals onto their advisory backlog, they've been going through the painful process of reporting big writedowns from their financing commitments.

The deal market hasn't fallen completely silent, though. The withdrawal of the offer from Barclays for ABN Amro last week cleared the way for the RBS-led consortium to swoop in and nab it. Although the outcome may be questionable for the buyers, the windfall to the deal's advisors will be nothing to sneeze at.

So far this week, we've seen:

  • Software giant SAP put up $6.8 billion for Business Objects.
  • GE's (NYSE:GE) NBC network snapped up Oxygen Media for $925 million.
  • Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM) paid $1.5 billion for Miramar Mining.
  • Spansion mopped up what's left of Saifun.
  • McAfee picked up privately held SafeBoot for $350 million.

Now we're not talking hulking deals like the $32 billion for TXU, but a higher volume of smaller deals might not actually be so bad for investment bankers. Although banks won't be funding massive amounts of debt (which, let's be honest, hasn't really worked out for them anyway), smaller deals typically pay out fees that are a higher percentage of the deal size. Plus, you usually don't find multiple banks advising on smaller deals the way they do on larger ones.

Of course, as we saw from the investment banking earnings reports last month, despite the fact that these big firms are still called "investment banks," investment banking is playing an ever-smaller role in their success or failure.

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