Dealmakers can be agnostic on the technology sector and still want a piece of its propitious slice of M&A activity. Bullish on automotive insurance? Buy driver monitoring device makers. Strong thesis on healthcare? Data management software is an entry point. Technology deals continue to get strategics and private equity interest with a focus on digital transformation across sector verticals.
“I’ve seen a very aggressive position with strategics coming in that aren’t in technology, buying technology,” says Grant Thornton’s national managing principal for M&A Elliot Findlay. “The feeling from an innovation and digitalization perspective, is that some companies are way behind. [They’re] more willing to divest companies to create cash and to deploy that cash directly into technology.”
In enterprise software, for instance, technology deals “specific to the legal, automotive, financial, oil & gas, agriculture…” and other sectors composed 17 percent of enterprise M&A in the first half of the year to rank as the third most attractive subsector, according to Hampleton Partners’ recent report. Vertical applications actually fell from its perch as the second highest source of sector deal volume.
But the decline in vertical software M&A could be short-lived.
“We’re a U.S. based B2B tech investment firm,” said Cota Capital’s PV Bóccasam at yesterday’s EisnerAmper Alternative Investment Summit. “Our fundamental belief is that our offices are going to be digitally powered.”
Telecommunications continue to become increasingly integrated into every sector, said Hunter Carpenter, partner at RedBird Capital. “It’s infrastructure and applications needed to solve problems,” that will drive tech investment across sectors, he said at the event.
The disparity between the data and the sentiment could be partially down to the category of market participants: 35 percent of vertical software deals in 1H21 had a financial sponsor counterparty. Then again, bullish interest could signal a future rebound.