European tech, media and telecoms M&A pushed to all-time high in 2018

2018 will be remembered as a year that broke all records — in the technology, media and telecommunication (TMT) space, anyway.

To begin with, the year’s TMT deal value soared 177% to reach €169.1 billion. This is a huge leap from the €61 billion in 2017 and surpassed the previous high (set pre-crisis in 2007) by €36 billion.

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The deal breakdown

In 2018, the TMT sector saw five deals priced upwards of €5 billion, collectively valued at €82.3 billion — versus just one such deal in 2017.

Comcast’s €42.2 billion acquisition of Sky led the charge, becoming one of the most closely watched deals of the year and ended 2018 as the largest transaction in Europe.

Other blockbuster, or mega deals included Vodafone’s €18.4 billion purchase of Liberty Global’s cable assets in the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and Romania. This became the largest telecom deal and second largest deal in the TMT sector. If approved by regulators, the deal would make Vodafone the largest provider of high-speed broadband and cable services in Europe.

In total, deal value in European telecoms increased to €59.6 billion with 75 deals, versus €15.6 billion and 85 deals in 2017 — a significant 282.2% increase.

The UK saw a sharp increase of M&A activity in the events and exhibitions market, led by Informa’s €5 billion takeover of UBM — the second largest media deal and fifth largest TMT deal in Europe.

TMT Sector breakdown.
TMT Sector breakdown.

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Technology M&A

Last year also fared better for technology M&A. The sector clocked up 947 deals worth €51.7 billion, up from €34.4 billion with 915 deals a year earlier. Semiconductors made a comeback as deal value recovered from 2017 year’s anaemic €1.4 billion worth of deals, compared to to €6.5 billion in 2018.

Top European Deals FY18 - Technology, Media & Telecom.
Top European Deals FY18 – Technology, Media & Telecom.

2019 TMT M&A

Will 2019 be another record-breaking year in the European TMT M&A space?

Amy-Jo Crowley, TMT Reporter at Mergermarket commented: “The market will now be asking whether 2019 can keep up. Concerns over receding stock valuations, Brexit and geopolitical uncertainties are expected to slow M&A demand, which deal makers believe will dissuade acquirers from paying higher valuations in what could result more heated negotiation processes as the global economy turns.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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Tech M&A
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