New report: Q2 sees uptick in blockbuster M&A

After a long slump, the technology sector saw some “big-ticket” merger and acquisition activity in the second quarter (ended June 30), according to a new report out today from Ernst & Young.

More than $1 billion changed hands in seven deals during the period, but the data reflects a growing uncertainty in the market, making it unclear whether big transactions will continue at the same clip going forward.

For instance, while deals were big, there weren’t more of them in Q2. They remained pretty flat from the first quarter total of 628 despite rapid growth in the number of deals over the previous four quarters. That said, the total number of dollars jumped 32 percent to $30.8 billion, 154 percent higher than it was in the prior quarter. The data suggests that a bevy of much smaller, strategic deals took place as well.

Ernst & Young has identified several major trends governing M&A patterns in the tech sector, including the mobilization of business with the advent of applications and productivity tools, the blending of certain industries giving birth to new strategies, and the transition to a “smart” economy that prioritizes speed, security and intellectual property.

The need for mobility contributed to more that 50 deals, the report says, involving companies like mobile network operators, mobile marketing firms and mobile advertising companies. These transactions largely focused on mobile video, gaming and productivity applications.

Notably, corporate deals fell in average value about 32 percent year-over-year, to $128 million, while private equity deals skyrocketed 715 percent in average value to $277 million. Also year-over year, the total amount exchanged in PE deals during the quarter increased to $5 billion from $646 million — a 671 percent increase. To put that in content, the corporate deal total only increased 14 percent during the same time.

The leap in PE activity suggests that private equity firms are finally rebounding from the economic downturn that flattened many of them in late 2008 and early 2009.

According to Ernst & Young, M&A could very likely continue at the same pace, which is good news for the economy and investors who have been starved for lucrative exits. With the top 10 technology companies sitting on more cash (30 percent more, or about $258 billion), more will probably launch acquisition strategies in the near term.