In early March, I stopped to take note of the flurry of (admittedly mostly small-sized) technology company exits occurring across Europe, going back six months to identify some 45 confirmed deals.

The benefit of meticulously keeping track of funding and M&A deals that happen within the European technology industry, aside from enabling us to send a weekly digest of all things EU tech to our beloved newsletter subscribers, is that we can now start reporting data and trends.

As a prudent first step, we’ve started listing all the acquisitions, mergers and IPOs of European technology companies that have occurred in the first quarter of this year.

49 54 EU tech exits and counting

We’re still looking at how to package and present the complete set of data, but here are some findings and charts that came out of our data collection:

From a total of forty-nine fifty-four confirmed exits of EU tech companies that we’ve tracked, only three were billed as mergers (Zuzeen-Rushmore.fm, Softgarden-1000jobboersen and Ebuzzing-Teads), with one company going public in Q1 2014 (King); leaving fifty acquisitions (this includes ‘acqui-hires’).

Out of 54 known deals in Q1 2014, we can only determine the size of 18 deals (or just one third). The rest remains undisclosed – at least for now.

Who’s got the biggest?

Looking at the size of the transactions of which the price was disclosed or at least reported by a reputable and credible source, a number of interesting observations can be made.

The King IPO was the second-biggest transaction in the first quarter of this year – the gaming company had a less-than-stellar debut on the public markets but raised $500 million at the IPO price, valuing it at $7.09 billion.

Two other multi-billion dollar transactions occurred in Q1 2014, albeit both in the telco-ISP space (Ziggo-Liberty Global and ONO-Vodafone to be more precise).

Six other deals involved transactions worth more than 100 million euros:

- Viber: acquired by Rakuten for 661 million euros
- NaturalMotion: acquired by Zynga for roughly 380 million euros
- DeepMind: acquired by Google for roughly 360 million euros
- Conax (Telenor): acquired by The Kudelski Group for 164 million euros
- Cyvera: acquired by Palo Alto Networks for roughly 144 million euros
- Area9: acquired by McGraw-Hill Education for roughly 131 million euros

Here are the sixteen eighteen disclosed deals, ranked by size:

When you leave out the top 3, or the transactions with a size greater than 1 billion euros, the chart looks like this:

Who – and where?

Google was the most active acquirer, picking up three EU tech companies in the first quarter of 2014: UK-based DeepMind and Spider.io, and Israel’s SlickLogin.

Twitter acquired two European startups, France’s Mesagraph and UK-based SecondSync, while Imperva went shopping in Israel and bought two companies at once (Incapsula and Skyfence).

The rest of the acquirers did only one deal in Europe in Q1 2014.

But where in Europe did these transactions happen?

Germany took the cake with 9 EU tech company exits, followed by Israel (8), France (7) and the United Kingdom (6). In Spain, Belgium and The Netherlands, 3 tech startups were acquired, and we tracked 2 transactions for Finnish companies.

There were also exits in Cyprus, Denmark, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Switzerland, Turkey and Ukraine.

And where did the buyers hail from?

Mostly from the United States – in fact, for 21 out of 53 exits the acquiring company was based in the US, or in roughly 40 percent of the cases.

In Europe, buyers mostly came from the bigger markets: Germany, France and the UK, all with five deals.

To conclude, we took a look at when the deals were announced, just to get an idea of the most active months and quarters over time.

No enormous difference in terms of activity for the first quarter, as you can see, but January was a quieter month:

That’s it for today. We’ll continue to publish this type of report in the future, and Q2 2014 is already starting to look very interesting in terms of M&A activity as well, so keep an eye out.

If you spot something majorly inaccurate or incomplete in the above, let us know here or in the comments, and we’ll fix if needed. If you enjoyed this report, you might want to consider subscribing to our weekly newsletter, on Twitter and on Facebook.

Featured image credit: Jose AS Reyes / Shutterstock

  • Donald McIntyre

    Israel is Asia not Europe.

    • abarrera

      Geographically speaking yes, but it’s counted as part of EU for most of the official tallies.

      • Trond Johannessen

        It is not subject to any EU policies, has no currency links, has a totally different risk profile – in summary, it is the same as Daddy doing the sorting of socks at home.

        • Jose S.

          Israel takes part in Horizon 2020 R&D framework program and due to this, subject to some EU policies and obviously related to EU tech.

          About your other considerations, all EU countries have different risk profiles (in fact different regions from same country have different risk profiles). Same goes for currency, in fact ten countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) are EU members but do not use the euro, while all economies are nowadays linked, specially whith USA, China and EU, so Israel is.

    • http://robinwauters.com/ Robin Wauters

      Technically Western-Asia / Middle East yes, but for a variety of reasons we (and not only we) count the Israeli tech industry as an integral part of the European tech scene. It’s just a choice we made, and besides, who are we to disagree with the people behind the Eurovision song festival? :)

      Also, I’ve made the charts and data presentable in such a way that you can exclude Israel from the findings easily, if you wish.

      • Trond Johannessen

        It is an integral part of the American tech scene.

    • Trond Johannessen

      Eurasia

  • abarrera

    Interestingly, 5 of the top 6 acquisitions of over 100 million euros are all non-EU companies. Seems there is still a chronic aversion to acquiring innovation from EU big companies.

    • http://robinwauters.com/ Robin Wauters

      More a case of simply not having enough companies big enough in Europe (at least not yet) to make those kinds of bets. One of the big problems with the EU tech scene.

      • abarrera

        Not big enough? Well last time I checked we had some of the top banks and telcos in the world plus other big figures like retail gigants like Inditex. I don’t believe it is a lack of acquirers but a lack of mentality towards it. Would be interesting to do a poll and compare top US acquirers with their EU counterparts.

        • http://robinwauters.com/ Robin Wauters

          Tech startups usually get bought by big tech companies, and there’s definitely a lack of that around these parts.

      • Trond Johannessen

        Google buys companies like Motorola used to: buy to shut down; buy to strip; buy the fruit and throw the peel. Alternative view is that Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon are companies that grow an ecosystem, and they buy their ecosystem jewels and remain grateful for the remaining commitments. If you grow ecosystems, and you buy some, you give a clear signal to investors about the reality of industry exit opportunities. Where are the ecosystems of EU companies?

  • Thomas Kösters

    What kind of IPOs do you count and do you focus only on ICT companies? Just as an example the 3D printing company voxeljet from Germany did an IPO in 2013 http://www.nasdaq.com/markets/ipos/company/voxeljet-ag-915787-73505

    • http://robinwauters.com/ Robin Wauters

      Well it’s tech exits, broadly speaking anything ICT related — We’d count Voxeljet’s IPO for sure (and Materialise’s IPO, which is about to happen) – but why would we include an exit from 2013 in a report about exits in the first quarter of 2014?

  • http://babich.me/ Michael Babich

    Robin, nice piece. Is there a list of the companies and the deals? I tried to figure out what was that Ukrainian exit, but could not figure out where to find it in the article.

    • http://robinwauters.com/ Robin Wauters

      I have it, just hesitant to simply post the complete data set without context, at least for now. FWIW, the Ukrainian exit was Podorozhniki.

      • http://babich.me/ Michael Babich

        Ugh, thanks. That’s useful. Pretty small one though. There were not so many big exits in Ukraine. Probably the biggest was when Google via Motorola bought Viewdle for around $35-45M in 2012.

  • http://csertoglu.typepad.com csertoglu

    The big Turkish exit of Q1, Pozitron to Monitise, should be included in the list.

    • Trond Johannessen

      Another Eurasian country.

    • http://robinwauters.com/ Robin Wauters

      thanks!

  • gabriele colasanto

    Hi, very interesting…are there updates? I also would like to ask why the big IPO of AO (UK online retailer) is not considered here. Thanks for an answer!

    • http://robinwauters.com/ Robin Wauters

      We’ll do a Q2 report in July, and yes, AO should definitely be in there!