Unified communications M&A – talk isn’t cheap

Paul Vanstone

Published September 2016

The B2B communications market has undergone something of an overhaul in recent years with a wave of M&A driven by growth, synergies and capability convergence underpinning sustained increases in trading and transaction multiples. The Unified Communications (UC) sub-sector has been a notable market theme as platforms extend their capability to enable full voice, video, document and data collaboration for SMEs through to enterprise companies. Within the broader UC space, a notable shift is also being seen in the conference calling segment with traditional conferencing minutes being substituted by web and video conferencing requiring players to be able to offer a combined solution to cater for all needs.

These trends have driven notable M&A activity with the likes of the Beech Tree Private Equity-backed £35m MBO of UC provider Wavenet and Maintel’s reverse takeover of managed communications services company Azzurri (£49m, 15.8x EBITDA) at the smaller end of the market and, moving up in scale somewhat, the acquisition by the US private equity firm Siris of both the conferencing and collaboration provider PGI ($979m, 13.2x EBITDA) and the hotly contested Polycom (collaboration) acquisition ($2bn, 9.1x EBITDA). Vodafone, Ring Central, Citrix, fuze, Vonage and Mitel have also all made UC-related acquisitions in the last two years to broaden their capability in the space.

We expect continuing M&A activity by trade buyers at attractive multiples for strategic assets and that PE interest will selectively continue for high growth UC integrators in the attractive SME and small enterprise focused space. These themes are explored further in our latest UK telecoms market M&A update.

My thinking

Expect more retail technology M&A as the sector arms race accelerates

As we explore in our new Retail Technology report, retailers face a daunting technology challenge as digital innovation transforms their business models... 

Green machine – auto efficiency in M&A focus

The recent VW emissions scandal has once again shifted the spotlight back on the automotive green agenda... 

Notes from the trade show floor: Sensors Expo & Conference 2015

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the recent Sensors Expo & Conference hosted over 10,000 attendees... 

< Back to Paul's biography page

Paul Vanstone
T: +44 (0) 20 7246 0510
E: paulvanstone@catalystcf.co.uk