A remarkable record for tech M&A

Contact: Brenon Daly

Both the number of tech, media and telecom (TMT) transactions and the spending attached to them in 2015 soared to their highest level in a decade and a half, as an unprecedented wave of consolidation reshaped the tech landscape more dramatically than any single year since the Internet bubble burst in 2000. Two of the three largest TMT deals since then printed in 2015, helping to push the total value of last year’s acquisitions to nearly $600bn, according to 451 Research’s M&A KnowledgeBase. That smashed the previous record tech M&A spending level by more than 40% and only slightly trailed the value of all TMT transactions in the preceding two years combined.

Overall, we tallied a record 83 individual deals in 2015 with an equity value greater than $1bn in the KnowledgeBase. Many of those big-ticket acquisitions saw buyers – flush with cash but starved for growth – snap up rivals, such as Dell’s $63.1bn reach for EMC (the IT industry’s largest-ever transaction) and Avago’s $37bn pickup of Broadcom (the semiconductor industry’s largest-ever deal). Other notable pairings in 2015 came in markets such as Internet access (Charter Communications-Time Warner Cable), storage (Western Digital-SanDisk), telecom infrastructure (Nokia-Alcatel-Lucent), online gaming (Activision Blizzard-King Digital Entertainment), Internet travel (Expedia-HomeAway) and elsewhere.

It wasn’t just big acquisitions that printed in 2015. Last year also saw a record number of transactions, topping 4,300 for the first time in the history of tech M&A. (The level is about 20% higher than the average annual deal volume over the previous half-decade.) One notable example of the busy buyers last year was Microsoft. The tech giant, which is in the process of reinventing itself for the cloud era, announced 20 purchases in 2015, more than twice the number it had averaged per year recently. Similarly, IBM tripled the number of deals in 2015 from 2014, announcing 15 acquisitions last year.

Global tech M&A

Year Deal volume Deal value
2015 4,304 $594bn
2014 3,951 $387bn
2013 3,295 $246bn
2012 3,651 $185bn
2011 3,797 $233bn
2010 3,293 $190bn
2009 3,030 $143bn
2008 3,098 $326bn
2007 3,654 $420bn
2006 4,036 $418bn

Source: 451 Research’s M&A KnowledgeBase

For more real-time information on tech M&A, follow us on Twitter @451TechMnA.