The FINANCIAL — In the 17th edition of the EY Technology, Media & Entertainment and Telecommunications (TMT) Global Capital Confidence Barometer (CCB), 45% of senior executives across the TMT industry say they expect heightened M&A competition in the year ahead. Of those anticipating greater competition, half see challenges coming from private equity (PE), and TMT leaders surveyed ranked the return of PE buyers as the top theme in the M&A market for the coming year.
At the same time, 81% of TMT executives expect the economy to continue improving — an indicator that has quadrupled over the past year. In the same time period, confidence in the stock market outlook has risen 18 percentage points, with 52% expecting improvement in equity valuations. Additionally, 77% of TMT executives expect corporate earnings to improve, up 23 percentage points on last year.
Growing optimism about economic and financial conditions create an environment ripe for dealmaking. As such, near-term TMT dealmaking intentions remain near record levels. In aggregate, 56% of TMT leaders surveyed intend to pursue acquisitions in the next 12 months, well above the 45% average reflected in the report since April 2013.
Near-term dealmaking intentions in the technology sector (57%) are trending higher this year than in 2016 (50%). Combined, nearly half (48%) of technology executives are pursuing deals for growth and innovation, while 40% say the main driver is acquiring technology or talent, demonstrating a continued interest in “acqui-hire” deals, which focus on talent acquisition.
However, overall EY analysis projects a year-over-year decrease of 9% in deal volume and 34% in deal value for full-year 2017.
Ken Welter, EY Global Technology Transaction Advisory Services Leader, says:
“The year ahead will answer the question of how much of today’s tech sector optimism translates into tomorrow’s deals. Technology companies should realize their dealmaking intentions by taking deliberate steps to re-evaluate their portfolio review process, leverage modern analytical tools, prepare for an increasingly competitive M&A market and pre-plan for integration.”
Media & entertainment (M&E) sector
After a multiyear run of active dealmaking, intentions to acquire are more moderate for M&E executives, dipping from 57% to 50% in the last six months. Other indicators, however, are increasingly strong in this sector. Eighty-two percent of executives see the global economy improving, up from 20% a year ago, and there is a significant increase in the number of M&E executives (73%) who see their existing operations as a driver of near-term earnings, up from 57% a year ago.
Will Fisher, EY Global Media & Entertainment Transaction Advisory Services Leader, says:
“Strength in these indicators allows M&E executives to exhibit discipline. They can resist paying the increased valuations required to make acquisitions in today’s market, and instead focus on integrating and leveraging their existing strategic assets. In this way, we expect M&E companies to become less reactive to digital disruption and actually increase use of it to their advantage.”
More than half of telecoms executives, 61% combined, say the impact of digital technology on business models (33%) and threats from digitally enabled competitors (28%) are the biggest disrupters, a clear sign of the digital impetus for dealmaking in the sector. However, telecoms executives are not only looking outside of their organizations for transformation and growth, with 35% of respondents developing digital capabilities in-house and 64% focusing on organic growth.
Axel Majert, EY Global Telecommunications Transaction Advisory Services Leader, says:
“The pressure to transform telecommunications businesses amid an unrelenting tide of digital technologies and competition is at its peak, but optimism about the global economy has allowed companies to avidly pursue deals, reskill for greater digital competence and dig deeper to deliver the synergies of recent acquisitions.”