Deal volumes and values are expected to rise in the UK tech mergers and acquisitions (M&A) space next year as private equity interest returns and deep-pocketed suitors arrive from Asia.
The recently published Deloitte UK Technology M&A Survey reveals 60 per cent of respondents feel optimistic about M&A outlook, up from 53 per cent in June.
Almost 40 per cent now believe valuations will rise next year, up from 33 per cent in H1. Deloitte claims auctions will become more competitive, with US buyers still dominating, but facing increased pressure from Chinese and Indian parties.
However, 2011 is not expected to be a fruitful time for a public flotation, with the amount of people believing now is a good time for an IPO falling nine points in the last six months to just 31 per cent.
“Well-publicised stories of eleventh-hour valuation revisions and pulled flotations – across all sectors – have not been conducive to building investor confidence in new listings,” said the Deloitte report.
The inevitability of market consolidation is seen as the main driver for M&A activity in the tech space, having been cited by 79 per cent of respondents, an increase of 13 points on June. Cash-rich acquirers are now seen as a key factor for 53 per cent, up from 46 in H1, while 41 per cent cited the return of private equity – a jump of 30 points.
Virtualisation was picked out as the sector most likely to achieve premium valuations, being cited by two thirds of respondents. Mobile applications were next with 56 per cent, with security software on 43 per cent.
The report said: “It is clear that the excitement at the prospects for cloud computing cut across the interest in all three markets.”
Don McQueen, chief executive of telecoms buy-and-build player GCI Com, agreed that private equity interest is returning to the tech space, but asserted that plenty of attractively priced targets remain in play.
“The number of available acquisitions seems to have increased and the amount of competition has gone down,” he said. “We have put in some aggressive offers and been amazed by the response.”
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