Europe: Not the lost continent

Contact: Brenon Daly

Even as Europe appears increasingly likely to splinter under the weight of its unsustainable debt loads, there’s still a fair amount of shopping on the Continent. In fact, the $68bn worth of transatlantic transactions so far this year is the highest level in four years and equal to the combined value of European deals done over the previous two years. (To be clear, we’re talking about transactions where either the buyer or seller is headquartered in a western European country.)

Rather surprisingly, four of the 10 largest deals announced so far in 2011 have European accents. In three cases, the sellers were based in Europe (Autonomy Corp, Skype, Kabel BW) while SAP comes in as the sole big buyer, thanks to last week’s $3.65bn purchase of SuccessFactors. Even more surprisingly, two of those mammoth transactions have been announced since the debt crisis really took hold on the Continent.

If European leaders can move to stabilize the region – granted, that’s a big ‘if’ – then tech acquisitions should accelerate from their already high rate, at least according to the view of some dealmakers. Fully two-thirds of the more than 100 corporate development executives we surveyed over the past week said M&A activity will increase if Europe shows progress in ‘resolving or containing’ its debt crisis.