International anti-trust watchdogs on guard

The big tech players are under scrutiny as separate investigations get under way by Britain’s competition watchdog, Germany's anti-trust watchdog and the European Union.
Read time 10min 10sec

New and continuing investigations into the ‘big tech boys’ dominated the international ICT market last month.

Key local news

  • Datatec’s Logicalis Group acquired Germany-based Siticom, a leading 5G integrator.
  • BT South Africa has ended its commercial relationship with the Sekunjalo Group, which owns AYO Technology Solutions.
  • EOH has disposed of its subsidiary, Sybrin, in a R410 million deal with a consortium led by One Thousand & One Voices Management (1K1V) and which has Crossfin Technology as an empowerment partner.
  • Jasco Networks has entered a sale of business agreement with the Reach Group for the former’s Property Technology Management’s business of professional ICT infrastructure management services (R7.5 million).
  • Poket Mobile has entered SA’s mobile market as the newest mobile virtual network operator (MVNO).
  • Prosus has bagged Stack Overflow, the knowledge-sharing platform for developers and technologists (R24 billion) and a majority stake in GoodHabitz, a European provider of online training for businesses (€212 million).
  • Reunert’s newly launched IT services business, +OneX, is buying cloud specialist Triple H Cloud Services.
  • African Infrastructure Investment Managers led a 25.8% investment in MetroFibre Networx, a high growth player in SA’s fibre-to-the-home and fibre-to-the-business markets.
  • The R42 million investment by Naspers’s early-stage tech investment vehicle in WhereIsMyTransport, a mobility technology company that maps formal and informal public transport networks and uses this data and technology to improve the public transport experience.
  • The appointment of a new CEO at Dark Fibre Africa.
  • The death of Jabu Mabuza, a former chairman of Telkom SA.

Key African news

  • The additional 29% investment by MultiChoice in Blue Lake Ventures, a Pan-African sports betting and entertainment business.
  • Airtel Africa has sold its Tanzanian tower operations to a joint venture owned by a subsidiary of SBA Communications and Paradigm Infrastructure ($175 million).
  • Ethiopia has launched a tendering process for the proposed sell-off of a 40% stake in state-owned carrier Ethio Telecom to private investors.
  • Ugandan authorities have directed all mobile phone operators in the country to list on the local bourse, the USE, within 12 months from June 2021.
  • The African/EMEA appointments of new CEOs and MDs at 3M and Africell in Angola.

Key international news

  • Accenture acquired Southeast Asia-based Entropia, one of the fastest growing international agencies skilled in scaling unique digital experiences for brands. It has also entered into an agreement to buy France-based Nell’Armonia; umlaut, a German engineering consulting and services firm; Exton Consulting, a French consulting firm; and, via Accenture Federal Services Novetta, an advanced analytics company serving US federal organisations.
  • Amazon Web Services bought Wickr, a provider of secure communications solutions for messaging, video-conferencing and file-sharing used by enterprises and government agencies. Amazon also announced it will acquire Art19, a major podcast hosting and monetisation platform.
  • Atos purchased Processia, a product life cycle management system integrator and Dassault Systèmes global service partner.
  • Berenson Capital acquired Interactive Digital Solutions, a provider of video and telehealth solutions.
  • Coalfire bought Denim Group, a recognised leader in application security.
  • Core BTS purchased Aptera Software, a software development company.
  • Deloitte & Touche bought almost all the assets of CloudQuest, a cloud security posture management provider.
  • Electronic Arts purchased Playdemic, the mobile games studio responsible for Golf Clash ($1.4 billion).
  • Enghouse Systems acquired Nebu, a Netherlands-based provider of market research and data analytics software solutions.
  • Epicor bought KBMax, a configure price quote and visualisation software provider.

Poket Mobile has entered SA’s mobile market as the newest mobile virtual network operator.

  • Facebook purchased BigBox VR, maker of the popular battle royale virtual reality game Population.
  • Flex Equity acquired Logical Maintenance Solutions.
  • HPE bought Determined AI, a start-up that delivers a powerful and robust software stack to train AI models faster, at any scale, using its open source machine learning platform.
  • Mastercard purchased Ekata, a digital identity verifier ($850 million).
  • Microsoft acquired ReFirm Labs, a company that will allow device builders and customers to discover, protect and assess device risk at the firmware and network levels, as well as patch devices via a cloud offering.
  • Mitek bought ID R&D, an award-winning provider of AI-based voice and face biometrics and liveness detection.
  • NetApp purchased Data Mechanics, a managed platform provider for big data processing and cloud analytics.
  • Spotify acquired Podz, a start-up that developed an auto-generated audio newsfeed for podcasts.
  • Synopsys bought Code Dx, a provider of an application security risk management solution that automates and accelerates the discovery, prioritisation and remediation of software vulnerabilities.
  • Syntax purchased Illumiti, a major SAP systems integration and management consultant and a SAP Platinum partner.
  • Verizon acquired Senion, a global leader in location responsive solutions.
  • Xerox bought Document Systems, a leading document solutions provider.
  • ZoomInfo purchased Insent, a conversational marketing platform that identifies website visitors in real-time, uses AI and advanced lead routing rules to initiate real-time conversations and increase conversions.
  • Adnet Technologies has launched a new business specifically targeting cyber security services. The new company, MachBlue Defense, was built in order to separate the management of clients’ cyber security from management of their IT operations, as well as to better provide cyber security services for other MSPs.
  • American Tower will sell a 10% stake in ATC Europe to Allianz Capital Partners (€530 million).
  • The Axiata Group and Telenor have sealed an agreement to merge their mobile operations in Malaysia ($15.8 billion).
  • Bain Capital and Crosspoint Capital have agreed to purchase ExtraHop, a network detection and response vendor ($900 million).
  • Blackstone has agreed to acquire International Data Group, a provider of market and data intelligence and research for the tech sector ($1.3 billion) and will take data centre operator QTS Realty Trust private ($10 billion).
  • Bentley Systems has inked a deal to acquire SPIDA Software, a leader in utility pole structure management.
  • Britain’s competition watchdog will investigate whether Apple and Google’s dominance of mobile phone operating systems, app stores and web browsers hurt consumers, launching its latest probe into the tech giants.
  • eBay will sell its South Korean business to Shinsegae Group's E-Mart and web portal operator Naver ($3.6 billion).
  • The EU has launched anti-trust investigations into Facebook’s use of advertising data in its classified ads business and opened a fresh investigation into Google over allegations the tech giant favours its own advertising technology and, in doing so, violates the bloc’s competition rule.
  • FireEye has agreed to sell its fledgling products business to Symphony Technology Group, undoing the 2014 acquisition that brought FireEye’s products and Mandiant’s services together ($1.2 billion).
  • Forcepoint will acquire UK-based Deep Secure, a cyber security company.
  • Germany's anti-trust watchdog has launched an investigation into whether Apple was exploiting its market dominance, following similar proceedings into Facebook, Amazon and Google.
  • Google will pay a $268 million fine in a deal with French regulators, settling one of the first anti-trust cases over the company's digital advertising tactics.
  • The announcement by Huawei Technologies of its proprietary Harmony operating system (HarmonyOS) for smartphones.
  • KCOM has sold its national ICT services business to UK-based MSP Nasstar.
  • KKR and Clayton Dubilier & Rice will privatise Cloudera, a cloud-based analytics company ($5.3 billion).
  • Millicom has signed binding agreements with two institutional investors to sell its entire stake in Helios Towers.
  • Nvidia is acquiring DeepMap, a start-up dedicated to building high-definition maps for autonomous vehicles.
  • The Omnicom Group is selling ICON International, a specialty media company, to ICON's management team.
  • SK Telecom’s board has made the decision to split the company in two, with the traditional mobile and telco business as one unit and the second focusing on investment, growth and initial public offerings.
  • Symphony has announced its intention to acquire Cloud9 Technologies, a cloud voice platform for financial markets.
  • Synopsys has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the semiconductor and flat panel display solutions from South Korea-based BISTel, a leader in engineering equipment systems and AI applications for semiconductor smart manufacturing.
  • VOXX’s subsidiary, Premium Audio Company, and Sharp have signed an asset purchase agreement to jointly acquire the audio/video business of Onkyo Home Entertainment Corporation.
  • Wipro has sold its entire stake (10.2%) in Ensono, an IT services provider.
  • The Altice Group has made a £2 billion (12.1%) investment in BT Group, thus making it the latter’s largest shareholder.
  • Crosspoint Capital partners invested in Everseen, a provider of AI-powered computer vision software.
  • Elliott Management has invested in Dropbox.
  • The investment by HIG Capital in Cleo Communications, a provider of software that helps facilitate the movement and integration of B2B enterprise data
  • The $110 million investment by Insight Partners in Brinqa, a start-up that helps businesses map out their cyber security applications and alert them of gaps.
  • KKR has invested in Cegid, a business management software solutions provider.
  • The $1 billion investment by Silver Lake in Splunk, the data analytics software firm.
  • Wipro has made a $1.2 million investment in Squadcast, a SaaS start-up that offers services that help enterprises ensure their IT services are always up and running.
  • The investments led by Insight Partners in Immersive Labs, a UK-based cyber security training start-up; Transmit Security, an identity vendor ($543 million); and Fiddler, a business that offers a platform to help companies monitor and implement AI initiatives.
  • The investments by Softbank’s Vision Fund 2 in Eightfold AI, an HR software start-up ($220 million); IRL, a group messaging app ($170 million); and Vianai Systems, a human-centred AI platform and products company ($140 million).
  • The $150 million investment led by Sequoia Capital in Amplitude, a developer of a digital optimisation system for analysing digital product customer and sales data.
  • The appointments of new CEOs at Anexinet, Cybrary, Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company, Exabeam, GameStop, Riverbed, SecureWorks, Virgin Media O2 and Virtusa.
  • The deaths of Philippe Courtot, a former CEO of Qualys, and John McAfee, the anti-virus software pioneer.
  • IPO filings from Couchbase (Nasdaq), Didi Chuxing (NYSE), Krafton (South Korea) and Turing Holding.
  • IPOs from Confluent (Nasdaq), DLocal (Nasdaq), Dye & Durham (Toronto), Marqeta (Nasdaq), (Nasdaq), Softchoice (Toronto), Sprinklr (NYSE), TaskUs (Nasdaq) and Zeta Global Holdings (Nasdaq).

Research results and predictions

  • According to Gartner, global smartphone sales to end-users grew 26% in Q121, while overall worldwide mobile phone sales to end-users grew 22% YOY.
  • According to GlobalData, the global IOT market was worth $622 billion in 2020, up from $586 billion in 2019, and will grow to reach $1,077 trillion by 2024, with a CAGR of 13% over the period.

Stock market changes

  • JSE All share index: Down 2%
  • FTSE100: Up 1.6%
  • DAX: Up 0.6% (all-time high reached during this period)
  • NYSE (Dow): Down 0.3%
  • S&P 500: Up 1.8% (all-time high reached during this period)
  • Nasdaq: Up 4.4% (all-time high reached during this period)
  • Nikkei225: Down 0.4%
  • Hang Seng: Up 0.6%
  • Shanghai: Up 0.2%

Final word

Fortune magazine has recently published its annual ‘Fortune 500’ listing of America’s largest companies. The following is noteworthy from a technology perspective.

  • New entrants include CACI International (at 473), Electronic Arts (485 and a returning entry), Equinix (461), Global Payments (394), KLA (468), Roper Technologies (488 and a returning entry) and Square (323).
  • Displaced entries include Alliance Data Systems (was 456), Anixter International (was 359 and acquired by WESCO International), GameStop (was 464) and Tech Data (was 90 and acquired by Apollo Global Management).
  • Highest climbers include AMD (up 139 places to 309), Fiserv (up 106 places to 205) and Nvidia (up 108 places to 184).
  • Highest descenders include Uber Technologies (down 53 places to 281) and Xerox (down 68 places to 415).
See also