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A general introduction to tech M&A in France

by Lottar

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The year 2021 was record-breaking for the French technology M&A market, with a 112 percent increase in global value, going from €4.8 billion in 2020 to €10.2 billion in 2021,2 and approximately 320 transactions during the year. Even if the effects of rising rates, global inflation and the correction of technology stocks – which affect the valuation of companies – are noticeable in the French technology M&A market, some indicators are reassuring (e.g. the number of deals, which doubled is higher) than before the covid-19 pandemic).

The widening of the scope of French foreign investment control regulation to include the sensitive technology sector has caused an increase in the number of foreign direct investment notifications to the French Treasury (a part of the French Ministry of Economy); nevertheless, foreign investors are consistently part of approximately one third of the transactions.3

Year in review

The top five private French technology M&A deals in 2021 were as follows:4

  1. the acquisition of TalentSoft, the French software publisher leader in cloud-based talent management solution, by Cegid, a leading software company in business management solutions;
  2. the acquisition of Photonis, a leading French multinational high-tech company specialized in the design and manufacture of high-precision sensors, by HLD Europe, a European private equity fund that invests without a predetermined time horizon;
  3. the acquisition of IbanFirst, an online financial services platform that enables users to open international accounts, by Marlin Equity Partners, a global investment firm, focusing on software technology;
  4. the acquisition of FinanceActive, a fintech company that provides solutions that improve portfolio alert management, by Altus Group, a software and advisory provider in the commercial real estate market; and
  5. the acquisition of Alsid, a software provider specialized in preventing business disruption (eg cyber attacks), by Tenable Networks Security, a cyber security company.

The top three private French technology M&A deals of the first semester of 2022 were as follows:5

  1. the acquisition of Leetchi, a group payment application that also offers an online money collection service, by Advent International, a US-based private equity fund active in the financial services sector;
  2. the merger of Adyoulike, a French technology platform leader in digital marketing, particularly media monetization, with Content Amp, an advertising technology company based in the UK; and
  3. the acquisition of Flink by Cajoo, two quick grocery services active in France.

The largest French tech public offering in 2021 was the initial public offering of OVHcloud on Euronext Paris, a cloud computing company offering virtual private servers, dedicated servers and other web services, for an enterprise value of €3.5 billion.

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