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M&A 2020: The markets of breakthrough technologies

The world went through the year 2020 with impacts from the pandemic of COVID-19. Markets closed; consumers tightened their spending; trade halted. M&A activities in 2020 became more cautious when many enterprises chose to buy shares at less than 50% or participate in equity or joint ventures with partners instead of merging or taking over as in previous years.

M&A 2020 - The markets of breakthrough technologies

However, the picture of M&A market in 2020 is not gloomy at all. Deals in the technology sector have partly shown business strategies based on the comprehensive technology platform of leading technology corporations. The biggest deal in 2020 was announced between NVIDIA and Arm (UK-based chip design company). NVIDIA acquired Arm for USD 40bn. Arm designs chips for companies such as NVIDIA and global NVIDIA competitors. As part of NVIDIA, Arm will continue to operate the open licensing model while maintaining the neutrality of the global customer that underpins their success, with 180 billion chips shipped through now by licensees.

Another deal worth USD 35bn was between ADM and XilinX- a company specializes in microprocessors for use in digital encoding and video compression. The two sides both outsource chip manufacturing outside the U.S (mainly in Taiwan).

The third deal worth USD 27.7bn between Salesforce and Slack- the largest M&A in the web technology market, surpassing the Microsoft's acquisition of LinkedIn (USD 26.2bn) and only after IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat worth USD 34bn in 2018.

The next three deals worth USD 13bn were those between Morgan Stanley and Etrade, Koch Industries and Infor, Marvell Technologies and Inphi. Except the plan to make high-tech chips serving data centers and facilities between Inphi and Marvell, the other two deals were software- related, as Infor is a platform specializing in planning software for enterprise resource planning (ERP) combined with CloudSuites cloud technology; ETrade specializes in electronic trading of financial instruments, from common stocks to exchange - traded funds (ETF).

Besides, although a number of other deals were announced, their worth have not yet been mentioned. Notably, there was a Facebook's deal with Scape Technologies (making the percentage of equity ownership increase up to 75%).

In 2020, the Vietnamese market did not have too many M&As. Most of M&A in 2020 were mostly a continuation of deals from the middle to the end of 2019. The most notable deal in 2020 is the issue of shares to investors of the drugstore chain Pharmacitya project funded by the Mekong II Fund with charter capital of about VND 300bn (February 2020 - VietnamBiz.vn, 2020).

M&A deals from foreign businesses to domestic firms in some areas have been carried out even though they did not receive much public attention

In addition, M&A deals from foreign businesses to domestic firms in some areas have been carried out even though they did not receive much public attention. Specifically, in the field of goods production, in April 2020, Siam Cement Group announced the acquisition of Bien Hoa Packaging Company. Bien Hoa Packaging Company is a supplier of carton packaging for many large enterprises in Vietnam in the confectionery, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical industries. SGC Group also holds a large stake in many domestic plastic and packaging companies such as TPC Vina Plastic and Chemical, Vietnam - Thai Plastchem J.V, Minh Thai Plastic Materials, and Vietnam Building Materials (Brandsvietnam.com, 2020). In the field of technology, in September 2020, a fairly "quiet" deal between Gojek and VCCorp when buying WePay e-wallet with an undisclosed amount (Brandsvietnam.com, 2020).

This deal is part of Gojek's plan to expand its business in the Vietnam’s market when Gojek announced its official operation from August 5th, 2020. In the logistics sector, in December 2020, Ryobi Vietnam Company completed the purchase of new Transimex shares, holding up to 23.7% of capital, being the largest single shareholder (Vir.com.vn, 2020). In the real estate industry, in December 2020, Nam Long Group acquired a 30% stake from Portsville Pte., Ltd. - Singapore's 100% owned subsidiary of Keppel Land Ltd.'s. in Dong Nai Waterfront City project and Nam Long Group became the sole owners of this giant project (Vir.com.vn, 2020). On the other hand, not all M&A deals were successful. A typical example in the Vietnam’s market was that between Tiki.vn and Sendo.vn. Although it had been notified to the regulator and had almost completed the settlements of the deal, the deal was still not completed at the last minutes. During the end of 2020, rumors about the Grab and Gojek deal were on several websites, however, the parties involved has had no comments so far.

It can be seen that despite being affected by the pandemic, enterprises’ business activities have not been “frozen”. This year, many corporations consider and adjust their business strategy to be suitable with the new context. The most prominent feature of the M&A wave is technology companies, mostly belonging to high-tech chip companies, companies with lists of global customers, and companies with potential technology platform. In Vietnam, the M&A wave can be seen in most of the fields from goods production to Internet-based technology. Due to the shortage of information, the article is to review the context instead of giving detailed commentary on each deal.

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