A ‘new normal’ for tech M&A

Contact: Brenon Daly

With the third quarter now in the books, we’re busy tallying the buying that went on over the past three months. Not that it involves all that much work, actually. In fact, for all the talk of how much better off we are now than at this time last year, you wouldn’t know it from the M&A levels in the third quarter, which wrapped yesterday.

And just to qualify, when we say ‘better off,’ in most cases we mean ‘less worse off.’ It’s true, for instance, that jobless rates aren’t rising as fast as they once were, but they are still rising. That sentiment is mirrored in statistics covering many other areas of the economy as well, although is does go against the 15% rise in the Nasdaq over the summer.

So where do these currents and crosscurrents leave us in terms of numbers of third-quarter deals and the spending on them? In the just-completed July-September period, we recorded 740 transactions with an aggregate announced value of $34bn. That lines up nearly identically with the 733 deals worth $32bn in the third quarter of 2008, which saw the beginning of the historic credit crisis. Further, the third-quarter results continue the trend of measuring tech M&A spending in the tens of billions of dollars, compared to the $100bn quarters that we saw regularly during the boom years. Our take: there’s a ‘new normal’ in tech M&A.

Recent quarterly M&A activity

Period Deal volume Deal value
Q3 2009 740 $34bn
Q2 2009 767 $48bn
Q1 2009 654 $10bn
Q4 2008 725 $40bn
Q3 2008 733 $32bn
Q2 2008 719 $173bn
Q1 2008 836 $55bn

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase