Acquisitions and mergers continue amid COVID-19

Accenture, Apple, NetApp and Cisco Systems are among the companies continuing on their acquisition paths.
Read time 6min 30sec

During the coronavirus pandemic, which is dominating most things including the ICT industry, I will be producing a monthly highlights article instead of my usual weekly column. The pandemic has already had a significant effect on the raft of quarterly results that came out during April, as well as pausing potential IPO filings. However, mergers and acquisition activity has continued apace.

South African highlights

African highlights

  • Kenya's Safaricom and SA's Vodacom have completed the acquisition of popular mobile money platform M-Pesa from Britain's Vodafone.
  • The appointment of a new CEO at Liquid Telecom Zambia.

International highlights

  • Accenture has acquired Nike Group, an Italian consulting firm that provides regulatory technology services and solutions to financial services firms; Revolutionary Security, a privately held company specialising in enterprise cyber security for IT and operational technology environments; Yesler, a business-to-business marketing services agency that helps many of the world’s leading brands run their global marketing programmes and operations at speed and scale; and it has agreed to acquire Gekko, a leading French Amazon Web Services cloud services company.
  • Apple has bought DarkSky, a hyperlocal weather information app; and Ireland-based Voysis, an artificial intelligence start-up that developed a platform for digital voice assistants to better understand people’s natural language.
  • Australia will force Facebook and Alphabet's Google to share advertising revenue with local media firms, the country's treasurer said on Monday, becoming one of the first countries to require digital platforms to pay for content they use.
  • Autodesk has invested in Aurigo Software, a company that makes software for planning and building infrastructure projects such as roads and bridges.

Australia will force Facebook and Alphabet's Google to share advertising revenue with local media firms.

  • Boxlight has acquired Robo 3D, a leading brand of 3D printers, and MyStemKits, the largest online collection of K-12 STEM curriculum for 3D printing.
  • BroadVision and Frontier Communications have filed for bankruptcy protection to enable them to undergo reorganisations.
  • Canyon Bridge, the China-backed owner of Imagination Technologies, plans to re-list the UK-based chip designer in London, New York or Hong Kong.
  • Cisco Systems is planning to acquire Fluidmesh Networks, a small wireless technology company that serves public transit, mining and port operations.
  • Commvault has filed lawsuits in a federal court alleging Cohesity and Rubrik collectively infringe seven Commvault patents relating to data management technologies, including cloud, data deduplication, snapshots, search, security and virtualisation.
  • The EU is focusing the next stage of its competition probe into Facebook on whether the social media network is distorting the classified advertising market by promoting its free Marketplace service to its 2 billion users.
  • Facebook is investing $7.5 billion in India’s Reliance Jio.
  • Fandango has agreed to buy Walmart’s on-demand video streaming service, Vudu.
  • A federal appeals court has revived nationwide litigation accusing Facebook of violating users' privacy rights by tracking their Internet activity even after they logged out of the social media Web site.
  • France's competition authority said Google must pay French publishing companies and news agencies for re-using their content.
  • GoDaddy is acquiring Neustar's Registry business.
  • InterDigital has entered a worldwide patent licensing agreement with Huawei Technologies, and the companies have settled all litigation against each other.
  • MaxLinear and its wholly owned subsidiary have entered into a definitive agreement with Intel under which MaxLinear will acquire Intel’s Home Gateway Platform Division.
  • Merck has acquired the OLED patent portfolio for display applications from Konica Minolta, which comprises over 700 patent families.
  • Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners has closed a deal to acquire a roughly 50% stake in the Portuguese fibre network of Altice Europe for €2.3 billion.
  • NetApp has acquired CloudJumper, a leading cloud software company in the virtual desktop infrastructure and remote desktop services markets.
  • Palo Alto Networks has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire CloudGenix, an industry-leading cloud-delivered SD-WAN provider, for $420 million.
  • Quibi has rolled out its short-format video streaming platform, having already raised $1.75 billion in funding in the two years since its creation.
  • Rapid7 plans to acquire DivvyCloud, a cloud security posture management start-up, in a deal worth around $145 million.
  • Softbank has pulled out of its $3 billion share buyout of WeWork, with the latter suing the former for this move.
  • Sony has made a $400 million (5%) investment in Bilibili, the Chinese online entertainment platform.
  • Sprint and T-Mobile US have completed their $26.5 billion merger.
  • The US International Trade Commission has launched an investigation into certain portable gaming systems by Nintendo after privately held Gamevice filed a petition alleging patent infringement.
  • ValueAct Capital Partners has invested $1.1 billion in Nintendo.
  • Verizon Communications has agreed to buy video conferencing company Blue Jeans Network, a rival of Zoom Video Communications.
  • Xerox has abandoned its $35 billion bid for HP.
  • An IPO is scheduled from Alibaba-backed SaaS developer Hangzhou Raycloud Technology on the Nasdaq-like STAR Market of the Shanghai Stock Exchange.
  • IPOs have been filed by Kingsoft Cloud, the cloud computing spin-off of Hong Kong-listed Chinese software firm Kingsoft; QingCloud, a Chinese enterprise-level cloud computing products and solutions developer; and Rackspace, a provider of cloud computing services.
  • The announcement of new CEOs at AT&T, Beeline, Canon USA, Coherent, eBay, Envestnet, IBM’s Red Hat unit, JazzCash, Optiv Security and PacketFabric.

Research highlights

  • Global smartphone shipments are expected to contract by 15% on year to 1.15 billion units in 2020, as major brands, including Samsung Electronics, Huawei and Apple have all slashed their shipment targets for the year in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, according to Digitimes Research.
  • Worldwide IT spending is now expected to decline 2.7% this year, as COVID-19 impacts the global economy and forces many organisations around the world to respond with contingency planning and spending cuts in the short term, according to IDC.
  • Telecommunication services spending to reach $1.6 billion in 2020, with nearly flat growth compared to 2019, according to IDC.

Final word

Look out for SAP selling a unit that helps telecommunications operators route calls and text messages; Google buying cloud software start-up D2iQ (formerly Mesosphere); and Telefonica selling Germany's cell towers to Telxius for €1.5 billion.

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