Data centre 2017 M&A deals beat 2015 and 2016 combined totals, says Synergy Research

The appetite for data centre deals in 2017 increased dramatically, with 48 transactions at $20 billion overall, according to Synergy Research.

The total surpasses those of 2015 and 2016 combined, which produced 45 deals – 28 in 2016 and 17 in 2015 – at just over $15bn. What’s more, Synergy adds, 2018 will start with $2.6bn of deals which have been agreed but are yet to close. In this category, for instance, would be Equinix’s planned acquisition of data centre provider Metronode for $1.035bn AUD (£594m), announced in December.

Not surprisingly, Equinix is, alongside Digital Realty, the largest investor in the space. A deal which ran into this year having been announced in December 2016 was the buying of 29 data centres from Verizon for $3.6 billion. Excluding Metronode, between 2015 and 2017 Equinix and Digital Realty have made acquisitions totalling $19 billion between them, with the former focusing on a global strategy and the latter concentrating on the US and Europe.

Digital Realty spent the most on one deal in 2017, its $7.6bn acquisition of DuPont Fabros. In comparison, the largest acquisition in 2015 and 2016 was Equinix buying TelecityGroup for $3.8bn.

John Dinsdale, research director and a chief analyst at Synergy Research, said the shift was being driven by enterprises giving less priority to owning data centre assets – the Verizon case being a good example – and more priority to improving their IT capabilities.

“That shift is driving huge growth in outsourcing, whether it is via cloud services, or use of colocation facilities, or sale and leaseback of data centres,” said Dinsdale, adding: “The dramatic growth of cloud providers is also driving changes in the data centre industry, as data centre operators strive to help them rapidly increase scale and global footprint.

“We expect to see much more data centre M&A over the next five years.”