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Global Tech M&A Activity Reached Record Levels In 2016, Says EY

Feb 23, 2017

For the second straight year, global technology mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity soared to an all-time high in 2016.

The deal-driving tech included cloud computing, smart mobility, social networking, and big data analytics, professional services firm EY revealed in a report released today. Last year, technology M&A outpaced deals in other industries, which fell 15% in value. Aggregate value reached $466.6 billion — the highest ever.

Overall deal volume, however, declined. In 2016, the industry saw 3,796 deals, which was down 5% year-over-year. In spite of the decline, half of the disruptive technology trends continued to rise, including cloud, IoT, big data, analytics, gaming, and connected cars.

“The second-half slowdown in global technology M&A deal volume suggests tech companies are approaching a dealmaking plateau,” Jeff Liu, EY technology industry leader said in the report. “But with digital technology disruption still in its infancy and the extraordinary growth of IoT-related deals, it’s likely to be a very high-altitude plateau, indeed.”

In particular, it looks like Internet of Things (IoT) deals are heating up. They drove the highest value in 2016 ($103.4 billion), with more than half coming from connected-car technologies. Cybersecurity, advertising, and marketing also showed significant value growth, which reportedly rose 50% year over year.

Related: Here Are the 5 Biggest M&A Deals of 2016

In 2017, machine learning and artificial intelligence are expected to fuel much of the M&A activity, says EY's research. “Expect tech M&A values and volumes to remain high in 2017 — though perhaps not quite at the record levels of 2016,” Liu says.

Perhaps most interesting is that geopolitical and economic uncertainty in 2016 has not necessarily deterred business executives from dealmaking. The report says consumer and business confidence in the U.S., U.K. and Europe “appears unfazed by rising political uncertainty.”

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