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Data Center Mergers and Acquisitions: 2017 Deals, Spending Set Buyout Record

The big M&A money seems to be in data centers these days, according to new data from Synergy Research Group. Indeed, suitors spent more money on data center mergers and acquisitions in 2017 than in the two previous years combined, the research shows. In fact, Data center M&A activity reached a staggering $20 billion for the year, while the total number of deals also increased. On average, there was one significant M&A deal closing nearly every week.

The largest transaction for 2017 was Digital Realty’s $7.6 billion buyout of DuPont Fabros, but the data shows there were four other deals valued at a billion dollars or more. Those were each conducted by Equinix, Cyxtera, Peak 10, and Digital Bridge. A further 12 deals were valued between $100 million and $1 billion, and 31 smaller deals were each valued at up to $100 million.

There were just 45 deals in 2015 and 2016 combined, with only three in the billion-dollar-plus range. Equinix was the big player in those years with its acquisition of European retail colocation provider TelecityGroup for $3.8 billion.

The Big Guns

In some ways, the data centers potentially compete with big public cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. But in many other ways, the data center buyers are differentiating through higher-touch support services and more comprehensive managed services.

Over the entire three year span that the data look at, Digital Realty and Equinix are the most prominent investors. They also happen to be the world’s two leading colocation providers.

Generally speaking, colocation centers rent out equipment, space, and bandwidth to retail customers. This allows firms to access space, power, cooling, and security for their server, storage, and networking equipment while gaining connectivity to telecommunications and network service providers at a fixed cost.

Together, the companies spent $19 billion on acquisitions of data center operations, Synergy’s data shows. Equinix’s buying spree was spread across the four regions of the world, while Digital Realty focused its attention on the U.S. and Europe.

Data Center Merger, Acquisition Trend Isn’t Slowing

There’s also reason to believe the trend will continue with four more major deals on the horizon. Those deals - like Equinix’s pending acquisition of Metronode -- have been announced, but have yet to close and their combined value is more than $2.6 billion.

As enterprises focus on improving their IT capabilities their moving away from owning their own data center assets. That’s causing an upswell in outsourcing - be it cloud services, colocation facilities, or other options - and driving large firm’s interest in data centers.

Analysts at Synergy say they expect to see even more data center M&A activity over the next five years as the growth in cloud providers changes the data center industry and operators are forced to find ways to help customers increase their scale and global footprint.