Survey: no slowdown in record tech M&A pace

Contact: Brenon Daly

Even as tech M&A spending sprints along at a record clip in 2014, half of the respondents to the just-completed M&A Leaders’ Survey from 451 Research and Morrison & Foerster expect the pace to accelerate through the next six months. The 48% of survey respondents who say the tech M&A market is likely to be busier from now through next April is three times higher than the percentage forecasting a decline in activity. (451 Research subscribers: See our full report on the M&A Leaders’ Survey.)

Although the bullish forecast in our mid-October survey dropped from the high-water mark of 72% in our April 2014 survey, it essentially matches the level from surveys over the previous two years. For context, however, it’s also important to note that this outlook – with five out of six respondents indicating that dealmaking will either hold steady or pick up – is coming at a record time for tech M&A. Spending on tech transactions around the globe so far in 2014 is higher than the spending during the same period of 2012 and 2013 combined, according to The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase. (451 Research subscribers: See our full report on Q3 M&A and IPO activity.)

Survey respondents were less bullish in their outlook for private company M&A valuations. A record 34% of respondents predicted that sale prices for startups would head lower from now through next April, three times the percentage that said that in our survey just a half-year ago. We would attribute at least part of the deterioration to the fact that there were certainly bigger – and much higher-profile – sales of startups in the early part of 2014. Overall, according to the KnowledgeBase, the first half of 2014 has seen eight of the 10 largest deals announced so far this year, led by the largest-ever VC exit, WhatsApp’s sale to Facebook in February for $19bn.

M&A spending outlook for the next six months

Survey date Increase Stay the same Decrease
October 2014 48% 36% 16%
April 2014 72% 24% 4%
October 2013 50% 43% 7%
April 2013 54% 27% 19%
October 2012 49% 34% 17%
April 2012 59% 33% 8%

Source: M&A Leaders’ Survey from 451 Research / Morrison & Foerster

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