Sizzle turns to fizzle in tech M&A, as Q2 spending slumps

Contact: Brenon Daly

After two consecutive years of surging tech M&A, we now have two consecutive quarters of slumping tech M&A. This year opened with Q1 spending on tech deals totaling only slightly more than half the average quarterly level of the recent two-year record run. Spending in Q2 dropped even further, leaving the value of tech deals announced around the globe for the April-June period at its lowest quarterly level in four years, according to 451 Research’s M&A KnowledgeBase.

Altogether, acquirers announced $56bn worth of global tech and telco transactions in Q2, according to 451 Research’s M&A KnowledgeBase. That represents a decline of 29% from the $79bn in Q1 2017, with all three of the past months suffering through a pronounced summer slowdown. (Our M&A KnowledgeBase shows every single month of Q2 came in below the average monthly spending in Q1.)

One of the main reasons for the drop from Q1 to Q2 is the recent disappearance of the big enterprise vendors doing big deals. In the first three months of the year, Intel, Cisco Systems and Hewlett Packard Enterprise all announced acquisitions valued at more than $1bn. However, since then, tech bellwethers have been replaced primarily by telco operators and private equity firms. (PE shops merit their own mention, as they printed more tech deals in Q2 than any quarter in history. However, in keeping with the current trend in the overall tech M&A market, their acquisitions were smaller than they have been. For instance, the number of PE-led deals with an equity value of more than $1bn dropped from nine in Q2 2016 to just five in Q2 2017.)

At the midpoint of 2017, this year is tracking to roughly $280bn worth of tech transactions. That would represent the lowest annual total in four years, and a dramatic slowdown from the roughly $500bn spent in 2016 and $600bn in 2015. We will have a full report on Q2 tech M&A activity for 451 Research subscribers next week, after an extended holiday weekend.