Uncertainty chills M&A in July

Contact: Brenon Daly

One month into the third quarter, and it looks like tech M&A activity is returning to a ‘normalized’ post-recession level. In August, we tallied global spending on tech and telco deals of just $12bn – putting Q3 on track for about $36bn of aggregate deal value. If the pace holds for the July-September period, the level would essentially match spending in Q3 2009, when the global economy was still mired in the Great Recession.

Overall, since the housing market speculation and related financial industry meltdown knocked the economy into a tailspin, tech M&A activity has ranged, loosely, from $30-50bn per quarter. As mentioned, Q3 2009 was at the low end of that while Q3 2010 was at the high end, with $46bn of announced deal value. (We noted a cold snap in the market in June, which knocked spending to just $10bn – less than half the level it had been in April and May.)

The relative weakness in M&A in the just-completed month of July came as larger economic concerns weighed on the overall market. A number of tech companies (including STEC, Juniper Networks, Riverbed Technology and Fortinet, among others) reported weaker-than-expected results last month, in some cases due to sluggish international sales. Meanwhile, closer to home, the US government teetered on the brink of default at the end of July, although a last-minute agreement to raise the debt ceiling may have headed that off. Nonetheless, the uncertainty around the outlook for the second half of 2011 appears to be blunting the appetite for acquisitions.

2011 activity, month by month

Period Deal volume Deal value
July 313 $12.2bn
June 297 $9.6bn
May 316 $26.5bn
April 287 $26.5bn
March 300 $63.7bn
February 285 $10.3bn
January 323 $11.7bn

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase