Everything you've always wanted to know about tech exits in Europe: tech.eu M&A report - Q1 2014

tech.eu took a deep dive into all the available data on European tech company exits in the first quarter of this year. Google was the most active acquirer; and US companies sure like to come shopping here.
Everything you've always wanted to know about tech exits in Europe: tech.eu M&A report  - Q1 2014

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

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