Fundamental changes in networking and computing are shaking things up in the enterprise IT world. These changes, combined with ubiquitous broadband and new devices like smart phones and tablets, are leading to new business models, new services and shifts in corporate behavior. It’s also leading to a lot of M&A activity as companies jockey for position before the ongoing technology shift settles into the new status quo.
A report out today from Deutsche Bank lays out some of the shifts and names what it believes are the 11 most likely acquirers, calling those companies the Big 11. The bank’s Big 11 are: Apple, Cisco, Dell, EMC, Google, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle and Qualcomm. They were selected because of their size, their cash balance and their willingness to make strategic acquisitions. The report talks about which companies each might acquire, but it also gives a wealth of data on the companies which comprise the Big 11 that any startup looking for a buyer on the software and infrastructure side might find worthwhile.
In addition to the information on buyers, the report goes on to explain why many deals today are valued at multiples that are so much higher than the potential revenue of the company (HP’s buy of 3PAR is a prime example of this trend):
On the other hand, the multiples paid for these companies go counter to typical expectations for valuations. All of these deals were priced at considerable premiums to forward estimates. The implication is that the larger companies believed that there were strategic benefits far in excess of the smaller companies’ near-term prospects. A common criticism of acquisitions holds that management teams of large companies try to buy revenue and earnings to offset far lower growth rates in their core businesses. This does not appear to be the case with these deals. We see this as confirming our thesis that large companies are looking to buy technology and product synergies. In all of these deals, we see larger companies either significantly building up weak product lines or looking for the ability to bundle new features into existing equipment.
Some of the 50 targets mentioned are:
- Salesforce.com (s crm )
- Research In Motion
- Riverbed Technology
- f5 (sffiv)
Each are on the list of potential candidates for different reasons associated with improving the quality and speed of delivering web-based applications and services from a cloud-based infrastructure to a multitude of devices. However, there are plenty of startups and private companies that are pioneering new technologies in these areas which are also fair game. The report doesn’t go into the content side of the business where companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, Disney, etc. are fighting for features and services to expand their reach and platforms.
Since we’re living through an enormous period of potential disruption thanks to technology, the giants in the industry find themselves playing a game of musical chairs as they seek the best seat at the table for the future. Startups and larger public companies that will help those giants fill out their offerings before the music stops are under the microscope and perhaps at the top of their valuations.
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