2024 Outlook

Global M&A Trends in Technology, Media & Telecommunications

Global M&A Industry Trends in Technology, Media & Telecommunications hero image
  • Insight
  • 9 minute read
  • January 23, 2024

Strategic M&A will continue to dominate the TMT dealmaking landscape in 2024, with windows of opportunity in an economic environment that presents new patterns and relationships.

Barry Jaber

Barry Jaber

Strategy&, Global Technology & Telecommunications Deals Leader, Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Bart Spiegel

Bart Spiegel

Global Entertainment & Media Deals Leader, Partner, PwC United States

Looking forward in 2024, there are reasons for optimism about dealmaking in the technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) sector. Advances in generative AI and other new technologies, more certainty around interest rates, record levels of capital to invest by private equity (PE), and pent-up demand for dealmaking all point towards an increase in TMT deal activity in 2024.

Deal values remained significantly lower throughout 2023 than in the prior two years. The past year has also seen significant fluctuations in deal activity, with record deal volumes in the first half of 2023 followed by a significant decrease in the second half of the year. The decline in deal activity during the second half of 2023 is attributable to factors such as more restrictive monetary policy, the effects of inflation on consumers, geopolitical conflicts and a changing regulatory environment. Additionally, valuations of companies are often more sensitive to bank rates in TMT than in other industries, which has created a valuation gap between buyers and sellers.

In 2024, we expect a laser focus on extracting more value from each deal to be a consistent M&A theme—even more necessary given the higher cost of capital.

‘Pressure to deploy capital and pursue strategic transactions will underpin TMT dealmaking in 2024. Valuations are now readjusting after the macroeconomic and geopolitical uncertainty in 2023 dented confidence and dealmaking activity across the TMT sectors.’

Barry Jaber,Strategy&, Global Technology and Telecommunications Deals Leader, Partner, PwC UK

Jump ahead to read our subsector trends

M&A hot spots

We expect the following areas to be hot spots of M&A activity in 2024:

  • Software-as-an-opportunity: Software continues to attract investor interest because of the nature of its subscription-based business models, particularly from PE players, which now account for approximately two-thirds of all software deals. With more predictable recurring revenues and cash flows, the software sector will continue to appeal to investors in the current lower-growth environment. As a result, we expect software to continue to dominate technology dealmaking activity in 2024. The first half of 2023 saw more than 5,000 software deals, beating the records set during 2021 and early 2022, although the volume fell back significantly during the second half of the year in large part because of the overall macroeconomic environment and challenges in financing deals. Deals which did get done tended to be smaller and thus easier to finance. Deal value remains well below previous levels because of a notable reduction in megadeals. However, the overall attractiveness of enterprise software will ensure that it remains a hot spot for TMT M&A activity in 2024.

  • Telecoms consolidate and Netco models re-emerge: Telecom market structures continue to be transformed by consolidation and the re-emergence of the Netco model—where companies own and operate the network infrastructure and lease it to telcos and service providers—as a means to realise synergies, mutualise costs and attract alternative capital. We expect to see these trends play out across both fixed and mobile segments, particularly in Europe, where key players have struggled to generate appropriate returns on capital. This represents a significant opportunity for strategic investors, private equity and infrastructure capital.

  • Streaming consolidation: With the end of the US writers’ and actors’ strikes, streaming services face less ambiguity about costs going forward and more predictability in production processes. This enables these players to better model and analyse their ongoing operations. Additionally, improved access to data provides streaming companies with enhanced visibility into consumer preferences such as the number of platforms to which consumers are willing to subscribe, penetration in major markets and content preferences driving consumer behaviour. We believe the ecosystem is ripe for consolidation and expect some streamers in the market to look for strategic partners in the next six to 12 months.

‘As entertainment platforms continue to advance and offerings expand, those players with a full suite of services should enjoy a sticky subscriber base—while others may need to explore M&A, joint ventures or partnerships to remain relevant in an ever-evolving ecosystem competing for consumers’ discretionary time and money.’

Bart Spiegel,Global Entertainment and Media Deals Leader, Partner, PwC US

M&A volumes and values in 2023

Technology, media and telecommunications deal volumes and values, 2019-2023

Click the tabs to view the chart and commentary for each region.

Bar chart showing M&A volumes for the technology, media and telecommunications sectors. Deal volumes in TMT increased by 5% between 2022 and 2023 although deal values declined by 55% due to a lower number of megadeals.

Sources: LSEG and PwC analysis

Global: A new record was set for M&A activity in TMT in the first half of 2023, with around 8,500 deals announced, 100 more than the previous record of 8,400 deals that was established in the first half of 2021. However, the second half of the year was a different story, with deal volumes declining by 31% from the first half of the year to less than 6,000 deals. For 2023 as a whole, deal volumes ended the year down 1% on the prior year. Deal values decreased by 44% in 2023 compared to the prior year, primarily because of a combination of smaller deals and lower valuations. Furthermore, the number of TMT megadeals dropped from 42 in 2021 to 24 in 2022 and just 11 in 2023.

Global TMT deal volumes and values with PE involvement, 2019-2023
  • Technology continued to dominate TMT M&A activity in 2023 accounting for approximately 85% of deal volume and deal value. Of the seven megadeals (defined as deals over $5bn) announced in TMT in 2023, six were in the technology sector, including the largest deal of the year, Cisco’s $28.1bn proposed acquisition of Splunk. 
  • Technology deal volumes increased to record highs driven by strong quarters in the first half of 2023 in the Americas and EMEA. While global technology deal volumes increased marginally in 2023, deal values decreased by nearly 60%, due to a combination of smaller deals and lower valuations. 
  • Software continues to account for the vast majority of technology deals, followed by IT services.

PE involvement in deals (whether as the direct buyer, as an indirect buyer through a portfolio company acquisition or as the seller) has grown over the past five years from approximately one-third of deal volumes and values in 2019 to over one-half of deal volumes and values in 2023.

The technology sector remains a bright spot for M&A

Global technology deal volumes and values, 2019-2023
  • The technology sector accounted for 85% of TMT deal volumes in 2023, and with more than 12,000 deals in the sector in the past two years, is a significant component of the overall global M&A market. With ongoing trends of digitalisation and technological disruption, we expect the technology sector will remain a bright spot for M&A in 2024 and beyond.
  • In 2023, the software subsector accounted for almost three-quarters of technology deal volumes, with almost 9,000 deals. This was 2% higher than in 2022. The next most active subsector was IT services, with almost 2,000 deals in 2023, followed—at some distance—by semiconductors and equipment with just over 600 deals.

  • In terms of deal values, software accounted for two-thirds of technology deal values in 2023, down from almost three-quarters the prior year, primarily because of a decline in the number of megadeals and lower valuations. In 2023 the largest technology deal announced was a software deal—Cisco’s approximately US$28bn proposed acquisition of Splunk.


of TMT corporate leaders plan to use transactions to accelerate adoption of technology and technology-enabled processes

Source: PwC UK’s Value Creation Transformation Survey

Key themes driving M&A activity in 2024

Investor focus on margins

Higher interest rates and an uncertain and volatile economic outlook punished unprofitable (and lower-profitability) TMT companies’ valuations in 2023. Consequently, TMT companies, particularly in the technology sector, have focused more on cost reduction and/or avoidance than in recent years, and investors have increasingly prioritised profitability relative to revenue growth in evaluating deals, a trend we expect to continue in 2024.

Regulatory headwinds

Some of the biggest M&A headlines in 2023 have centred on regulatory scrutiny as regulators across the globe continue to investigate and take action. Several TMT deals have received tough scrutiny, particularly from US, UK and EU regulators concerned about Big Tech acquisitions that boost the market power of dominant companies or involve start-ups seen as nascent rivals. Although some large deals have failed to obtain regulatory approvals, others have succeeded. For example, Meta closed on its US$400m acquisition of Within Unlimited, taking more than a year to secure necessary approvals to move forward with the deal. Similarly, Microsoft worked through the regulatory process to gain approval for its US$68.7bn acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Regulators in the EU recently introduced a Digital Markets Act which aims to curtail the power of Big Tech and anti-competitive behaviour. The EU regulators also ordered Google to sell part of its ad-tech business. In 2024, we expect continued regulatory pressure will dampen enthusiasm for M&A and extend the time it takes to close larger deals.

IPOs and de-listings

There is pent-up demand for new investment opportunities, and the growing backlog of tech and other companies waiting to go public likely means some of these will come to market in 2024. However, the window for IPOs will be narrow due to upcoming elections in the US, the UK and certain other countries. While waiting for a more receptive market, TMT companies have focused on strengthening their financials and developing alternative scenarios including potential sales.

In addition to the challenge for tech companies of raising capital in the public equity markets, poor post-IPO performance in the sector has led to some material valuation declines and a growing trend of public-to-private deals. Notable tech company de-listings include Francisco Partners and TPG’s US$6.5bn acquisition of New Relic and EQT’s reacquisition of German software firm SUSE, which had gone public via an IPO two years previously. With the current market conditions, we expect investors will find further opportunities, particularly in the tech sector, with PE funds remaining eager to acquire some high-quality public companies with strong earnings potential at lower valuations and take them private.

Global M&A trends in technology, media and telecommunications


  • PE continues to shape the software M&A landscape: Private equity remains a driving force in software M&A, shaping approximately two-thirds of software deals in 2023. Silver Lake’s acquisitions of Qualtrics and Software AG, Blackstone’s investment in Civica and other investments underscore the sustained interest, with PE firms attracted to the resilience and growth potential of software companies.

  • Software vendors acquire new capabilities and enter new markets: Software vendors are expected to continue their acquisitive strategies in 2024, seeking new capabilities and market entry plays. Buy-and-build platforms have continued to execute bolt-on acquisitions in 2023, and we expect this trend to continue in 2024. With the focus on cost reduction and investments in AI, corporate acquirer megadeals have been subdued in 2023 with the notable exception of Cisco’s US$28bn announced acquisition of Splunk in September 2023.

IT services

  • Pockets of growth in IT services: Many organisations have been delaying the implementation of new IT programs due to the uncertain macroeconomic outlook, presenting a more challenging outlook for the IT services market in 2024 and in turn hampering M&A. IT service management, cybersecurity and DevOps are expected to outperform, and we expect to see M&A activity in these segments as a result.

  • Generative AI’s impact on IT services: Gen AI will have a multifaceted impact on IT services. On the one hand, it presents an opportunity to improve productivity in delivery, which in turn will improve competitiveness and margins. On the other hand, it is challenging current business models—for example, in software testing. While gen AI is attracting a lot of investment buzz, we believe many dealmakers may be reluctant to invest in the space before the impact of gen AI is more certain.


  • Regulatory complexities and geopolitics shape semiconductor M&A: Regulatory challenges will continue to play a significant role in shaping semiconductor M&A for 2024. The fallout from regulatory hurdles—notably seen in Nvidia’s attempted acquisition of ARM and Sai MicroElectronics’ proposed purchase of Elmos Semiconductor—underscores the complex global dynamics at play. We anticipate continued regulatory scrutiny, particularly in the context of geopolitical tensions, influencing deal structures and limiting cross-border megadeals.
  • Semiconductors focus on supply chain resilience and portfolio strategy: Chip shortages, particularly of chips that are used in AI applications, and disruptions in the global supply chain have driven a focus on supply chain resilience, which will likely see organic investment prioritised over M&A. We expect large, diversified semiconductor companies to evaluate their portfolios and potentially divest operations. For example, Intel has announced its intent to separate its Programmable Solutions Group (PSG) with a view to conducting an IPO in the future.

Individuals, companies and national economies have all benefited significantly from spending on entertainment and live events. Significant releases and events in sub-industries such as film, television, music and gaming have prompted growth not only in the entertainment industry but also in other areas, such as tourism, food and even technology. As described in PwC’s Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2023–2027, spending on entertainment and media is forecast to grow by 4.2% in 2024, making it an attractive sector for investment and future M&A activity.

  • The thriving experience economy: The success of concerts, movies and sporting events continues to highlight the global post-pandemic craving for live and immersive experiences. Some of the most prominent examples of the thriving experience economy are embodied by artists such as Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, and by blockbuster films such as ‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer’. Bloomberg Economics estimated that together, the above two artists’ tours and the two US blockbuster films added up to US$8.5bn to US growth in the third quarter of 2023. These events in turn helped US GDP grow by 4.9% between the second and third quarters of 2023—a significant increase. The international leg of Taylor Swift’s tour is taking place in 2024 and may lead to a similar boost to economic growth in other countries.

    The influence of Taylor Swift’s music, tour, film and personal relationships on consumer spending across music, media and even sports has been dubbed the Taylor Effect. According to media reports, the National Football League (NFL) realised a significant increase in viewership when Taylor Swift attended a particular game—making that game the most-watched Sunday TV show since the most recent Super Bowl. The renewed excitement over live experiences, compounded by shifting preferences of an emerging demographic with disposable income, will likely attract the interests of PE, sovereign wealth funds and other investors keen to capitalise on this momentum. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, PE funds were already actively involved in evaluating deals in this space, and now that live experiences have regained momentum, we expect a renewed focus from both PE funds and corporate players.
  • Intellectual property: We expect market players with robust intellectual property (IP) portfolios to capitalise on the trend towards consumer interactivity by adopting and developing engaging, curated ecosystems to monetise their IP. Live, immersive experiences allow brands to engage with consumers and enable those consumers to easily share these experiences through their preferred social media outlets.
  • Geospatial technology: With all the focus on live events, one technology that may enhance the experience in 2024 is geospatial technology, which involves the use of satellite-based systems, GPS, geographic information systems and remote sensing to collect and analyse spatial data. This technology can provide operators with compelling consumer data and insights into consumer habits and trends, allowing them to better market, advertise and engage with consumers before and after the experience. We expect technologies that are tangential to the live experience space (such as geospatial or dynamic pricing) to be a target for M&A as operators look to improve their profitability.

In light of inflationary pressures, constraints on capital expenditure, increased financing costs and competitive market conditions in many geographies, telecom operators are seeking to transform their businesses through M&A. As discussed in PwC’s Global Telecom Outlook 2023–2027, telecom players will seek to gain economies of scale and synergies through mergers that enable them to pool resources and share the burden of investing in the integrated and scalable 5G networks that customers need. The industry remains focused on driving efficiency, achieving scale, freeing up cash and attracting external investment through various transaction archetypes, as discussed below.

  • In-market consolidation: Challenging returns on capital performance and an apparent softening of regulatory attitudes have reinvigorated mobile-mobile consolidation. Mergers such as Vodafone/Three in the UK and Orange/MasMovil in Spain aim to realise capital expenditure and operating expenditure synergies across both networks and broader business functions. This consolidation may also create space and regulatory support for new entrants (as seen in the US and Germany).
  • Further delayering through Netcos: After a first wave of Netco separations (for example, in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the UK) that were primarily regulator-driven or induced, we are seeing a new wave of fixed and mobile Netcos (for example, KKR/Telecom Italia, EQT/Windtre, Zegona/Vodafone Spain and Cellnex/Polkomtel) with a number of other Netco separations being contemplated elsewhere. These transactions are intended to optimise capital allocation to underlying infrastructure assets, unlock efficiencies and drive scale economics.
  • Scaling/divesting non-core services: Telco operators continue to seek to simplify their business profiles and free up cash to fund capital expenditure and/or de-lever through portfolio optimisation and divestments of non-core assets. These divestments include operations in non-core geographies, business units targeting adjacencies and captive service providers. There is a renewed focus on strengthening captive global/shared service capabilities to drive efficiencies desperately needed in an increasingly commoditised market environment, with first signs of carriers looking to divest captive operations to unlock/fund digital transformation and release cash.
  • Digital Infraco consolidation: Tower deals have continued into the next cycle, and there remains room for further consolidation. We expect Towercos will look to maintain or regain investment grade ratings, leading them to rationalise their portfolios around assets that can provide an incumbent position in a given market, while shedding/merging sub-scale assets. Similar dynamics are likely to play out in fragmented fibre markets, where sub-scale operators will consolidate, and larger players will selectively acquire to drive scale.

We have based our commentary on data provided by industry-recognised sources. Specifically, values and volumes referenced in this publication are based on officially announced transactions, excluding rumoured and withdrawn transactions, as provided by the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) as of 31 December 2023 and as accessed on 3 January 2024. This has been supplemented by additional information from S&P Capital IQ and our independent research. Certain adjustments have been made to the source information to align with PwC’s industry mapping.

Barry Jaber is PwC’s global technology and telecommunications deals leader and a leading practitioner with Strategy&, PwC’s strategy consulting business. He is a partner with PwC UK. Bart Spiegel is PwC’s global entertainment and media deals leader. He is a partner with PwC US.

2024 M&A outlook for Telecommunications Media & Technology

We have based our commentary on data provided by industry-recognised sources. Specifically, values and volumes referenced in this publication are based on officially announced transactions, excluding rumoured and withdrawn transactions, as provided by the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) as of 31 December 2023 and as accessed on 3 January 2024. This has been supplemented by additional information from S&P Capital IQ and our independent research. Certain adjustments have been made to the source information to align with PwC’s industry mapping.

Barry Jaber is PwC’s global technology and telecommunications deals leader. He is a Strategy& partner with PwC UK. Bart Spiegel is PwC’s global entertainment and media deals leader. He is a partner with PwC US.

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