Nordics buck global trend as tech exits rise: Q3 exit analysis

In Q3, we tracked 25 Nordic tech exits totalling a disclosed $2.88 billion

Despite tech exits on the decrease globally, Q3 saw the highest amount of tech exits in the Nordics since we began tracking them in Q1 2014. 19 of the 25 exits were undisclosed meaning that it’s a little tricky to get a feel for how large the exits were for the quarter, however of the disclosed exits, they were all fairly small, apart from HERE Map’s monster $2.8 billion sale.

After a record breaking Q2 for Nordic IPO’s, the public markets were a lot quieter in Q3, with just the one Nordic tech company going public in this quarter, there was also one merger, with the rest of the exits occurring from acquisitions.

Although Sweden dominate every funding analysis, comfortably raising more venture capital than their Nordic neighbours, this has never really translated into exits, until now, where in Q3 they secured a whopping 60% of the exits. Denmark, Finland and Norway saw a fairly even split, while Iceland didn’t have any tech exits this quarter.

The majority of tech exits occurred within the Nordics, with the bulk of the buyers coming from the region. Buyers from the United States continue to be the biggest buyers of Nordic companies from outside of the region, while companies from Germany, the UK and Japan also bought Nordic tech companies in Q3.

This means that in 2015, essentially half of the acquired companies have been acquired by another Nordic company. This is in stark contrast to 2014, where only 21% of the buyers were from the Nordics, with companies from the US being the dominant acquirers, with 45%. There’s arguments on both sides for whether this turnaround is a good or a bad thing, either way, it’s certainly interesting to observe this change.

As mentioned at the beginning, Q3 only saw one exit of real financial significance, but what an exit it was. HERE Map’s became the first $1 billion+ exit of the year, compared to the four that we saw in 2014. So, although tech exits are on the increase, evidently, the value of the exits in 2015 have not been anywhere near as high as 2014’s.

Sweden’s strong Q3 means they have now seen the most exits in 2015, with Denmark fairly close behind. Sweden actually saw less exits than Denmark and Finland in 2014, but it looks like they will end up on top in 2015.

Here’s a clear illustration of how tech exits have increased throughout 2015, culminating in the high of Q3.

Naturally, exits are vital to the tech industry as this means that investors are eventually getting a return on their money. A drop in exits could result in less money being invested in the first place due to market concerns, so it’s definitely positive for the Nordic tech scene that they have yet to see the drop in exits that we’ve seen globally, long may it continue.

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Neil S W Murray founded The Nordic Web in 2014 in order to provide the Nordics with the quality coverage it deserves. As well as being Founding Editor of The Nordic Web, Neil is also an active community builder in the region, participating in a number of initiatives, and has previously worked for