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The number of mergers and acquisitions involving AI firms reached 279 in 2019, more than all the AI deals in 2017 and 2018 combined, according to a new study by Hampleton Partners.
Despite the global pandemic, a further 95 M&A deals were recorded in the first quarter of 2020, with forecasts showing that the total could rise to the peak seen in the second half of 2019.
“The arrival of Covid-19 is putting artificial intelligence innovators and companies further in the spotlight for strategic buyers,” said Heiko Garrelfs, sector principal at Hampleton Partners. “New norms such as health checks and social distancing at work are driving AI adoption and adaptation.”
By volume, Apple made the most (10) AI-related acquisitions in the last 30 months, followed by Microsoft, Accenture and Oracle, with five each, and VMware, Facebook and ServiceNow, with four each.
AI used for quantitative analysis accounted for 70 percent of all AI deals between May 2019 and May 2020.
The largest AI deals included Thoma Bravo’s take-private of anti-malware company Sophos for $3.8 billion, the acquisition of Assurance IQ’s ML-based insurance search service by Prudential Financial for $2.4 billion and Hewlett Packard’s purchase of Cray’s high-performance computing technology for $1.4 billion.
Healthcare, automotive and financial services are the sectors with the greatest potential for disruption by AI, according to Hampleton.
Improvements in financial services, such as personalized financial planning, fraud detection and process automation, are seen as fueling AI adoption.