Telcos get busy again with M&A in February

Contact: Brenon Daly

Massive acquisitions by telcos, which pushed M&A spending to a recent record in 2014, once again helped to inflate the value of deals announced in the just-completed month of February. Overall, tech and telco acquirers spent $48bn on transactions across the globe, according to The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase. However, the three largest deals, which were all telco-related purchases, accounted for $30bn, or 60%, of the total spending in February.

Last month’s big-ticket acquisitions by BT Global Services, Frontier Communications and American Tower revived the telco shopping spree from 2014. Last year, telco and media purchases accounted for roughly half of the $439bn we tallied in M&A spending – the highest level in 14 years. (See our full report on M&A last year, as well as the outlook for this this year.) There were no significant telco transactions in January, which is one of the main reasons why M&A spending for the first month of 2015 was just one-fifth the amount spent in the second month of 2015.

Beyond the telco consolidation, there are clear indications that the broader tech M&A market is picking up the pace after the slow start. Expedia did its largest-ever deal last month, announcing the $1.4bn pickup of Orbitz Worldwide. And Canon, an infrequent acquirer, inked a $2.8bn buy. Even excluding the trio of telco deals, there were four transactions in February valued at more than $1bn – twice as many 10-digit acquisitions announced in January.

Additionally, the overall volume of M&A remained high in February. We tallied 331 transactions announced last month. That’s nearly one-third more than February 2014 or February 2013. Shoppers included Check Point Software, which announced its first acquisition in more than three years; four purchases by the insatiable acquirer Google; and a double-barrel set of deals by Under Armour.

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