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

Telecommunications M&A deal value spiked in the first quarter, as some telcos increase scale and others expand in adjacent sectors such as finance and insurance.


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 first quarter of 2024.

  • Deal value up: Global telecom M&A had another strong quarter. Deal value shot up from about $2 billion in the first quarter last year to almost $21 billion in the latest quarter (see Figure 1). Although that figure is down from $35 billion in the previous quarter, a single deal accounted for two-thirds of the fourth quarter’s value—Telecom Italia’s (TIM) $23.3 billion agreement to sell its fixed network business to KKR.
  • Trends to watch: We’ve seen three trends emerge so far in 2024. European telcos are pursuing scale deals to consolidate market position. Tower companies are rebalancing portfolios to emphasize core markets, reduce operational complexity, and manage debt. And some telcos are using scope deals to expand business in adjacent sectors such as finance and insurance (see the KDDI–Lawson and NTT Docomo–Orix Credit deals in Japan).
  • Biggest deal: The first quarter’s largest announced transaction was a scale deal: Swisscom agreed to acquire Vodafone Italia for $8.7 billion and merge it with Swisscom’s Italian subsidiary Fastweb.
  • In-country scale deals rebound: Scale deals accounted for slightly more than half of global deal value in the first quarter, a notable shift from each of the past two years, when this category made up less than a quarter of deal value (see Figure 2). Infrastructure divestments dominated telecom M&A from 2019 through 2022, but high interest rates and other macroeconomic challenges have reversed that trend.
  • Long-term view: Despite the recent decline, infrastructure divestments account for about 38% of all deal value over the past five years, the largest share among deal types (see Figure 3). In-country scale deals have the second-largest share at 28% during that period.

Bain’s Quarterly Global Telecom M&A Insights

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M&A Report 2024

Telecommunications M&A

High inflation, regulatory uncertainty, and buyer-seller valuation gaps dampened telecom deals last year.


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