The Year That Was in Fintech M&A

Calculating the effects of 2018’s spectacular industry-wide spending spree.

In the broader financial technology industry this year, consolidation was king. It’s hard to think of another 12 months in recent memory that have seen such wholesale change in the third-party vendor market, whether that’s the continual growth of stalwarts such as SS&C Technologies, or the end of independent existence for long-time actors like Charles River, Fidessa and even Eze Software.

Our reporting on this topic this year has generally been focused around providing the client reaction to the stories, and analyzing what this means for the market. Others may break the stories we cover, but you’d be hard pressed to find any other place where such rigorous reporting has taken place around what these moves actually mean for the industry, across longform reporting, podcasts and opinion columns. The best of this year’s reporting is below.

Questions Raised on State Street and Charles River’s Boston Wedding

We spoke with dozens of buy-side clients for Charles River, one of the pre-eminent buy-side technology vendors, shortly after it announced that State Street would be buying it for an eye-watering $2.6 billion. As possibly the seminal deal of 2018, this is an essential primer for anyone looking for background on the deal.

Listen: Anthony Malakian and James Rundle discuss the deal in the immediate aftermath on the podcast.

SS&C Flirts with Further Acquisitions after Fidessa

SS&C Technologies, a firm that has grown significantly through M&A (the first WatersTechnology story in our archive about SS&C’s acquisition habit is from 1994), makes no bones about the fact that it has its sights on potential acquisitions after its failed attempt to lure Fidessa to its stable. This would, of course, be followed up by…

Listen: The WatersTechnology team discusses SS&C’s plans on the Waters Wavelength Podcast.

The Next Domino: SS&C Buys Eze Software

We had reported in our coverage of the Charles River-State Street deal that Eze may well be an attractive acquisition target for Bill Stone’s SS&C Technologies, a prediction that was borne out a mere few days later when the firm announced it would be snapping up the Boston-headquartered vendor.

Thomson Reuters, Blackstone Agree $20B Financial & Risk Unit Spin-Off

Blackstone led a consortium that kicked the year off with a bang when it announced that it would be buying Thomson Reuters’ storied Financial & Risk business, which would later be rebranded as Refinitiv.

Listen: Max Bowie, managing editor of WatersTechnology, joins the news team on the podcast to give his thoughts on what the deal means.

NEX CEO Sees Opportunity for Opportunities after CME Deal

NEX had long been rumored to be on the block, despite its relatively young age—the company was formed from the remnants of Icap after its partial acquisition by Tullett Prebon—but the CME was a wildcard acquisitor that few saw coming. Here, NEX CEO Michael Spencer also says its venture arm will remain after its acquisition.

Listen: WatersTechnology’s New York newsroom discusses the implications of the CME-NEX tie-up on the podcast.

Fintech Fever Grips M&A with Fidessa Acquisition Offer

Temenos made a play for Fidessa in the early months of 2018. While it would end up losing out to Ion Investment Group, much of the structure, of the original deal remained in place, meaning many of our team’s original observations will likely still hold.

Listen: Victor Anderson, editor-in-chief of WatersTechnology, joins the podcast to reminisce about Fidessa’s history in the markets—with more than a few entertaining stories.

S&P Global Makes $550 Million Bet on AI with Kensho Buy

In terms of unexpected acquisitions, this almost topped the list for 2018, until the monster purchase of Charles River by State Street. The Goldman Sachs-backed analytics startup, Kensho, apparently found a home it can live with in S&P Global, which plans to use its artificial intelligence nous extensively in the future.

Listen: The WatersTechnology team discusses the Kensho acquisition, and how fintechs are being more disruptive than ever—just in ways that weren’t exactly predicted.

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