Tech leads crisis-driven M&A boom with US$350B deal rush

Tech leads crisis-driven M&A boom with US$350B deal rush

Such waves are characteristic after downturns

Credit: Dreamstime

Global mergers and acquisitions (M&A) volumes are approaching US$2 trillion for 2020, with technology making up almost a fifth of the total after mammoth deals such as SoftBank's US$40 billion sale of chipmaker Arm.

Dealmaking has stepped up a gear in September, with Nvidia announcing the purchase of Arm from Japan's SoftBank.

Others are coming thick and fast, with US telco Verizon buying Mexican mobile phones provider Tracfone for US$6.25 billion and Gilead Sciences to acquire biotech firm Immunomedics for US$21 billion.

Such waves are characteristic after downturns, but Refinitiv data shows 2020's US$1.97 trillion total of deals announced so far exceeds US$1.26 trillion and US$1.6 trillion during the same period in 2009 and 2010 respectively, after the 2008 financial crisis.

"Coming out of recession, there's usually a bit of catch-up to do and the cost of capital tends to be cheap," Graham Secker, chief European equity strategist at Morgan Stanley, said.

Tech firms comprised 17.8 per cent of the total at US$351.4 billion, the highest level since the dotcom boom of 2000, while financial services were in second place with a deal value of US$283.8 billion or 14 per cent of the total, Refinitiv said.

Tech's dominance, the data showed 5,966 deals targeting tech so far this year out of a total of just over 30,000, reflects the wider impact the coronavirus crisis has had.

The en masse switch by people stuck at home to internet-powered platforms for shopping, working, schooling, medical consultations and communication has sparked speculation that some of these shifts are permanent.

"Because of the changes that will come on back of this, companies will be thinking of whether they have the right business structures. There is a greater risk of a structural change in consumer behaviour than after previous recessions," Secker at Morgan Stanley said.

(Reporting by Sujata Rao; Additional reporting by Rachel Armstrong; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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