The Technology M&A Review, 2nd Edition

Overview

The French tech M&A market was very active in 2020.2 The number of tech M&A transactions was approximately equal to 200 deals in 2020 and compared to 2019 the global value increased by €500 million from €3.7 billion in 2019 to €4.2 billion in 2020.

New technologies are at the heart of the current efforts of the government to boost French industry and to protect French strategic industries and know-how. Like most G20 countries, France revised in 2020 its foreign investment control regulation to widen the scope of its foreign investment control regulation by including new sensitive tech business sectors, with it being specified that it is now possible for target companies to ask the French Ministry of Economy whether a contemplated investment will be subject to the French foreign investment control regulation (see Section IV.vi). Under recent French legislation, 'golden shares' can also be created by decree in relation to identified state-owned companies holding sensitive or critical assets, and give the state-specific control rights in relation to such assets, notably in cases of transfers of technologies.

Year in review

The top five French tech private M&A deals in 2020 were as follows:3

  1. the acquisition of Septeo, the French software publisher for the legal and real estate professions, by HG capital, the leading European investor in software;
  2. the acquisition of Meilleurtaux, France's leading comparison, intermediation and advisory service for financial products and services, by SilverLake, a global leader in technology-focused investment;
  3. the acquisition of Silaexpert, specialist in cloud payroll and human resources management software in France, by SilverLake, a global leader in technology-focused investment;
  4. the acquisition of Acrelec, a leader in responsive self-service solutions for the Quick Service Restaurant and retail industries, by Glory, a Japanese industrial group; and
  5. the acquisition of EcoVadis, the world leader in business sustainability ratings for global supply chains, by CVC Growth Partners.

The largest French tech public offer in 2020 was the initial public offer concerning Nacon, an integrated player in video game publishing, for an enterprise value of €458 million.