In the first quarter of 2015, Tech.eu tracked a total of 140 exits (acquisitions, IPOs and/or mergers), a rather whopping 61% rise in the total number of deals compared to Q4 2014.
It gets even more impressive when you compare the number of European tech exits in the first quarter of the year to Q1 2014, when Tech.eu tracked only 54 M&A transactions and IPOs in total. That means the year-over-year increase in the number of deals is roughly 160%.
Granted, we’ve increased the number of sources we track on a continuous basis, and have significantly improved our system for monitoring deals. It’s also worth noting that the number of deals is just one metric; obviously the size of the transactions is arguably even more important.
Still, there’s clearly more appetite for mergers and acquisitions of European technology companies. To wit, the maturation of the EU-wide technology industry is now even more measurable and quantifiable than before, and Tech.eu will continue to closely track deals and improve our reporting of the data.
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Below, you can find our now-fifth report on EU tech exits, which is a direct result of us meticulously keeping track of all funding and M&A deals that happen within the European technology ecosystem(s).
EU tech exits: acquisitions all the way down
Out of the 140 exits we tracked for Q1 2015, there were 134 acquisitions, 4 mergers and 2 IPOs.
The graphs below show the quarterly evolution in the number of EU tech exits, which is clearly driven by the number of acquisition of companies (there was no notable rise in IPOs or mergers).
Moving on the size of the transactions tracked, it should be a surprise to no one that the major consolidation wave in the British telecommunications space has generated the two biggest deals in the first quarter of the year: BT coughed up £12.5 billion for EE, while Spain’s Telefonica finalised a deal to sell O2 to Li Ka-shing’s Hutchison Whampoa for £10.25 billion.
Another huge deal was TE Connectivity, a Switzerland-headquartered designer and manufacturer of connectivity and sensor solutions, which sold its ‘Telecom, Enterprise and Wireless’ businesses to CommScope in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $3 billion in January.
Then there was Optimal Payments, which agreed to acquire digital payment service Skrill Group in a cash-and-share deal that values the business at 1.1 billion euros at the end of March.
The two IPOs tracked last quarter – Finnish provider of mobile consumer loans Ferratum and Italy’s e-commerce giant Banzai – also made the list. Rocket Internet paid €496 million for a 30% stake in takeaway food ordering company Delivery Hero, which we considered significant enough an acquisition to be listed as a purchase rather than a funding round.
There are also several major acquisitions and mergers underway that have not fully closed yet, or remain unconfirmed despite solid media reports, including Yoox / Net-a-Porter, Canon / Axis, Interxion / Telecity, Brother / Domino and Microsoft / N-trig.
There were a few major transactions of which we don’t know the size, or at least not yet. Those include SpeedCast’s acquisition of UK-based Hermes DataComms, KKR’s purchase of Thetrainline.com, a booking website for train travel in Britain, and Intel’s acquisition of former Infineon ‘Internet of Things’ chip unit Lantiq. As you can see in a graph below, most deal sizes in Q1 2015 remained undisclosed (105 out of 135 transactions, or 75% of all deals).
Who was buying, and where?
And in which countries in Europe did all these exits take place?
Germany was the leader in terms of number of tech exits, by a margin, with 30 transactions monitored. For your comparison: we tracked 16 deals in the UK, 14 in Spain and 13 in Israel.
This is followed by France and, surprisingly, Switzerland with 9 exits each.
In total, there were acquisitions or mergers of technology companies in 24 countries.
And where did the buyers of EU tech companies hail from during last quarter? From the United States, once again, with 37 out of 137 deals involving an American company as the acquirer. But, last quarter, Germany was almost on par with 34 mergers with or acquisitions of European technology companies. Active buyers were also to be found in the UK (10 deals) and France (9 deals). Notable buyers included Apple (Semetric), Microsoft (Equivio), Intuit (Porticor), PayPal (CyActive), Dropbox (CloudOn), Tencent (majority stake in Miniclip), Cheetah Mobile (MobPartner), Autodesk, (Modio) and ARM (Offspark), among others. The most active buyers were Rocket Internet (4 deals), ProSiebenSat.1 (3) and Intel (3).
Featured image credit: rawcaptured / Shutterstock