Tech buyers shop locally

-by Yulitza Peraza, Brenon Daly

Although the Delaware Court of Chancery was slated to rule this week on Emulex’s poison pill, the court punted on the decision. In postponing the ruling on the poison pill, which has been a key part of Emulex’s defense against the unwanted advances of Broadcom, the judge indicated that the two sides may well be able to work out a deal over the next week. Broadcom, which took its bid public on April 21, recently extended the deadline of its tender offer until July 14. The extension came as Broadcom also raised its bid to $11 per share for Emulex, up from $9.25. That added about $150m to the price of Emulex, which is currently valued at some $912m. As we noted earlier, Broadcom’s initial offer essentially valued Emulex where it was trading last October.

Unsolicited offers for tech companies, while increasing, are still relatively rare. However, in one regard, Broadcom’s bid for Emulex is rather typical. Scouring our data, we noticed a significant trend among California tech vendors: they tend to shop locally. That’s certainly true for these two southern California firms, which are only about 10 miles from one another. In the last seven years, about half of total tech M&A spending by California-based buyers went toward acquiring other Golden State tech companies. We would add that the ‘shop local’ trend isn’t limited to California, which stands as the most-developed tech region in the world. It’s also true on the other side of the country, where tech vendors based on the East Coast have spent more on acquiring neighboring tech firms than they have on companies from anywhere else.

There are a number of reasons for this trend, both formal and informal. For starters, the two sides are more likely to have a number of connections, sharing financial backers or board members, for instance. Additionally, executives at the companies may belong to the same local tech organizations or business groups. (Or, more informally, they may frequent the same restaurants or belong to the same clubs.) In some ways, our finding flies in the face of the oft-repeated notion that the world is flat, with business flowing around the globe without regard to borders or geography. That may well be true in some aspects. But when it comes to M&A, business is still largely done locally.

Geographic tech M&A, 2002-2009

Acquirer state/region Target Number of deals Percentage of total deals Total value Percentage of total value
California All 2,389 100% $247bn 100%
California California 879 37% $126bn 51%
East Coast All 2,391 100% $282bn 100%
East Coast East Coast 758 32% $83bn 30%