Technology transformation fueled record deal-making in 1Q15

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The FINANCIAL — According to EY’s Global technology M&A update: January-March 2015, record-setting technology M&A continued to set new post-dotcom-bubble highs in 1Q15 for both quarterly value and volume. Technology deal-making was fueled by technology-enabled digital transformations from corporate technology and non-technology buyers alike, which continue to disrupt multiple industries. 

1Q15 aggregate value of disclosed-value for global technology deals hit US$77.1b, higher than any quarter since 2000 and up 16% year-over-year (YOY) and 72% sequentially

Quarterly deal volume for global technology M&A deals climbed to 981 deals in 1Q15, up 29% YOY and 2% sequentially for the fifth consecutive post-dotcom-bubble quarterly record

The first quarter of 2015 featured a return of big-ticket corporate deals but a decline in private equity (PE) activity. Although, the first quarter is typically the weakest for global technology M&A, 1Q14 set a post-dotcom-bubble 1Q record and 1Q15 has climbed 16% higher than the year-ago quarter with aggregate value of US$77.1b. This marks the highest-ever post-2000 quarterly total. Even though PE buyers were mostly on the sidelines in 1Q15, non-technology buyers more than picked up the slack. At US$19.5b, they more than doubled their 4Q14 total and increased more than six times over 1Q14, EY reported.

This quarter saw health care IT (HIT) average value rise above all other deal-driving trends because of a single deal that exceeded US$10b. Meanwhile IoT tripled in aggregate value over 4Q14 on the strength of several IoT-flavored semiconductor sector consolidation deals. Likewise, values for security, big data, payment and financial technologies, smart mobility and cloud/SaaS also rose over the previous quarter, but values for gaming and advertising and marketing targets declined.

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Jeff Liu, Global Technology Industry Leader, Transaction Advisory Services at EY, says:

“The ‘blur’ between tech and non-tech that we see in 1Q15’s record-setting technology M&A will accelerate. The Internet of Things shows why: it drives the integration of digital sensors, processing, connectivity and security into virtually every industry’s products. And that pushes tech companies to deliver more comprehensive solutions — increasing blur and spurring more M&A.”

Other key highlights:

1Q15 aggregate value of disclosed-value deals hit US$77.1b, higher than any quarter since 2000. That’s up 16% YOY and 72% sequentially.

Quarterly deal volume climbed to 981 deals in 1Q15. That’s up 29% YOY, 2% sequentially and a fifth consecutive post-dotcom-bubble quarterly record.

The IoT and HIT were the biggest deal-value drivers of 1Q15, followed by cybersecurity, financial and payment technologies, smart mobility and the cloud.

IoT accelerates cross-industry technology blur by adding network-enabled digital sensors to other industries’ everyday products.

PE volume and value declined, while non-technology buyers increased value, again, after a strong 4Q14.

Cross-border aggregate deal value more than doubled YOY and jumped 59% sequentially; it captured a 42% share of total quarterly value.

Looking ahead: robust deal-making expected

Liu says: “We expected a strong start for global technology M&A in 2015 — but not quite this strong. Non-technology buyers were the wild card: they usually start slow and build throughout the year, but they were a major factor in 1Q15. It’s a sign the blur we’ve talked about for years is taking off, fueled by IoT and digital transformation and enabled by universal cloud adoption and a growing need to add cybersecurity to a wide range of products and services. This will set the stage for another blockbuster year in 2015 for tech M&A.”

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