Tech leads crisis-driven M&A boom with $350 billion deal rush

(Reuters) - Global M&A volumes are approaching $2 trillion(1.56 trillion pounds) for 2020, with technology making up almost a fifth of the total after mammoth deals such as SoftBank’s $40 billion sale of chipmaker Arm.

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Dealmaking has stepped up a gear in September, with Nvidia Corp NVDA.O on Monday announcing the purchase of Arm from Japan's SoftBank 9984.T.

Others are coming thick and fast, with Verizon VZ.N buying Mexican mobile phones provider Tracfone AMXL.MX for $6.25 billion and Gilead Sciences GILD.O to acquire biotech firm Immunomedics IMMU.O for $21 billion.

Such waves are characteristic after downturns, but Refinitiv data shows 2020’s $1.97 trillion total of deals announced so far exceeds $1.26 trillion and $1.6 trillion during the same period in 2009 and 2010 respectively, after the 2008 financial crisis.

“Coming out of recession, there’s usually a bit of catch-up to do and the cost of capital tends to be cheap,” Graham Secker, chief European equity strategist at Morgan Stanley, said.

Graphic: Global M&A deal volumes -

Tech firms comprised 17.8% of the total at $351.4 billion, the highest level since the dotcom boom of 2000, while financial services were in second place with a deal value of $283.8 billion or 14% of the total, Refinitiv said.

Tech’s dominance, the data showed 5,966 deals targeting tech so far this year out of a total of just over 30,000, reflects the wider impact the coronavirus crisis has had.

The en masse switch by people stuck at home to internet-powered platforms for shopping, working, schooling, medical consultations and communication has sparked speculation that some of these shifts are permanent.

“Because of the changes that will come on back of this, companies will be thinking of whether they have the right business structures. There is a greater risk of a structural change in consumer behaviour than after previous recessions,” Secker at Morgan Stanley said.

Reporting by Sujata Rao; Additional reporting by Rachel Armstrong; Editing by Alexander Smith