becomes latest Chinese ad-tech target

Contact: Scott Denne

Inflated stock value on China’s exchanges and a belief in a coming currency devaluation continue to fuel a boom in overseas M&A from the People’s Republic. The latest acquirer to add to that trend is Beijing Miteno Communication Industrial Technology, which announced the purchase of, a contextual advertising technology firm, for $900m in cash. With more than four months left to go in the year, China-based buyers have crushed their previous record on foreign acquisitions three times over by spending $13.1bn, compared with $3.7bn in all of last year.

We expect such deals to continue, particularly in ad-tech, as vendors in that country widely anticipate an eventual devaluation of their currency. Whether such a devaluation will occur isn’t known, but it’s generally accepted by much of the business community in the country and that has been a factor in the sudden spurt of M&A.

China-based acquirers have been particularly aggressive in their pursuit of ad-tech companies like These businesses play well into the arbitrage strategy that’s driving much of China’s overseas acquisitions. The buyer trades at 12.6x trailing revenue on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange – adding at a 3.5x multiple should boost that nicely. That’s a dynamic we’ve seen in several, though not all, such purchases.

Advertising technology plays well in that arbitrage strategy and those businesses have become popular targets for Chinese shoppers. On a revenue basis, valuations tend to be lower in ad-tech than other tech sectors because gross margins are lower – 15-25% gross margins are quite common. Also, a recent dearth of US acquirers for those assets has driven prices even lower. According to 451 Research’s M&A KnowledgeBase, the median historic multiple on ad-tech transactions is 2.7x TTM revenue. That has dropped to 2.2x in the past 24 months.

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