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GROWTH THROUGH ACQUISITION

What's Happening With Tech Start-up M&As in 2013

The M&A market continues its recovery from the slowdown during the Great Recession--but that's not the whole story.

An entrepreneur always has to keep an eye on potential exit strategies. They help you understand greater industry strategies, gain competitive intelligence, and better undertake strategic planning.

According to M&A analyst firm Mergermarket, deals in technology, media, and telecommunications, which it calls TMT, are well up year over year. The year seems to have gotten off to a resoundingly good start. TMT deals during the period from January 1 through July 29--so just over half a year--amounted to $232.5 billion globally, representing nearly 22 percent of all M&A deals. That was up from 13 percent of deals in the same period of 2012. The first half of the year, so through June 30, the total was $166.2 billion. It's the largest first half since 2008, which you could also see as good news.

The Bad News

Now for some major caveats. There have been a couple of huge deals that had an outsized influence on the results. For example, the first half of the year includes the announced and troubled intention for Dell to go private in an originally planned $24.4 billion buyout, which has since gone grown to about $25 billion. For some reason, Mergermarket valued the deal at $20.2 billion. ) Take out Liberty Media's acquisition of Virgin Media early in the year and the total loses another $16 billion out.

Similarly, looking at deals through July includes the announced enormous merger between ad agencies Omnicom Group and Publicis Groupe, valued at around $35 billion. Remove that from the 7-month total and things look less impressive.

It's not that large deals don't count. Far from it. But removing the outliers gives you a better sense of what is happening in the bulk of M&A. The number of deals in the U.S. so far is 358, down from 467 deals in the same period of 2012, though the amount of money involved nearly doubled. When you compare the number of deals in the U.S. since 2004 and remember that 2013 is far from over, it looks as though M&A activity continues to move out of the 2009/2010 slump it saw during the major recession, as the Megamerger graph shows below.

According to the firm, tech companies were the most frequently targeted, as there were 687 deals in that sector. But deal values so far are down 2.4 percent and volume is down more than 23 percent. So even with the number of acquisitions that Apple, Google, and Yahoo have been cranking out this year, shopping the company might be more difficult.

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Last updated: Aug 7, 2013

ERIK SHERMAN | Columnist

Erik Sherman's work has appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times Magazine, and Fortune. He also blogs for CBS MoneyWatch.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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