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Telecom M&A: Here Are the Latest Deal Trends Worldwide

Telecommunications M&A deal value fell significantly in the third quarter, continuing a decline that began last year.


Telecom M&A: Here Are the Latest Deal Trends Worldwide

Facing unprecedented industry transformation and emerging competitive threats, many telecommunications companies are turning to mergers and acquisitions to add new capabilities and evolve their businesses for the next era. At the same time, in the biggest industry reset since deregulation, the integrated telco is giving way to more disaggregated, narrowly focused business models. We’re tracking telecom M&A activity around the world, and we’ll publish the latest developments in this dashboard each quarter.

Here are some of the key takeaways through the third quarter of 2023:

  • Deal value down: Global telecom M&A activity continued to slow, reaching just $49 billion in deal value in the first three quarters of the year, down 39% from the same period in 2022 (see Figure 1). Deal value dropped even more steeply on a quarterly basis, from about $30 billion in the second quarter of 2023 to about $14 billion in the third. This year’s decline in deal value can be attributed largely to persistently high interest rates and capital constraints, as telcos make large investments such as network upgrades. Comparing regions, the largest share of global transaction value came from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, with about 41% of the reported deal value through the third quarter this year.
  • Infrastructure deals dominate despite decline: Infrastructure deals made up about 52% of global deal value in the first three quarters of 2023, followed by in-country scale deals at about 29% of deal value (see Figure 2). Infrastructure deals have accounted for much of the industry’s deal value and growth since 2019, primarily resulting from telecom divestments. However, there are signs of slowing: Infrastructure deal value decreased by about 50% in the first three quarters of 2023 compared with the year-ago period. That decline contributed significantly to the drop in total global deal value so far this year.
  • Biggest deal: The largest announced deal through the third quarter this year was an in-country scale transaction. Vodafone and Hutchison Group, the owner of Three, entered into a merger agreement to form the largest mobile network operator in the UK, with a combined enterprise value of about $19 billion.
  • Long-term view: Infrastructure deals account for about 39% of all deal value since 2017, the largest share among deal types (see Figure 3). In-country scale deals have the second-largest share at 33% during that period.

Bain’s Quarterly Global Telecom M&A Insights

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M&A Report 2023

Telecommunications M&A

Challenger consolidation and digital infrastructure deals resulting from the rising cost of debt will reshape the industry further.


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