Another British tech firm has been bought by a foreign company

Lynsey Barber
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Curiosity Self-Portrait at 'Mojave' on Mount Sharp
e2V has provided imaging sensors for several space missions (Source: Getty)

Shares in e2v, the British tech firm which supplies imaging sensors that help the Hubble space telescope and the Mars Curiosity Rover take pictures, have jumped almost 50 per cent after agreeing a £620m sale to US-based Teledyne.

In the latest example of a US firm being snapped up by a foreign company, the conglomerate has offered 275 pence per share, a premium of 48 per cent on Friday's closing price.

The deal follows two significant tech acquisitions since June's vote for Brexit - Japan's Softbank £24bn deal for Arm and the £1.4bn sale of "unicorn" startup Skyscanner to China's Ctrip.

Read more: Political opposition to Murdoch takeover of Sky mounts

The deal also follows hot on the heels of 21st Century Fox's £18.5bn takeover bid for the remaining 61 per cent stake in Sky it does not already own.

“Friday’s bid for Sky from 21st Century Fox and today’s all-cash offer for FTSE small cap stock e2v Technologies are the two latest examples of UK-quoted firms attracting an overseas predator and the pound’s post-Brexit plunge means more deals are likely," said Richard Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

“Even allowing for a rally since November, the pound is down by 13 per cent against the euro, 15 per cent against the dollar and 19 per cent against the Japanese yen compared to where it began 2016, a trend which makes UK-based assets and UK-quoted firms look all the cheaper to overseas buyers."

Further deals are likely, analysts predict, with Mould citing precision instruments specialists Spectris and Renishaw as potential targets, along with Imagination Technologies. The chip maker was in "advanced talks" with Apple, one of the major firms it supplies, earlier this year, however a deal was eventually ruled out.

Liberum identified Oxford Instruments as a "tasty morsel", adding: "The market will scan for other niche, high tech industrials that have endured a bumpy ride and could look appealing to large US industrials."

Analysts expect a bumper year for tech M&A in 2016, with more to follow next year.

e2v issued a profit warning in November, saying trading for the year was likely to be "modestly below our previous expectations". Revenue fell by six per cent in the first half of the year to £102.8m while pre-tax profit almost halved.

Read more: What Skyscanner's biggest shareholder had to say about its £1.4bn sale

"Teledyne has recognised the value inherent in our business and prospects by making a cash offer at an attractive premium to the share price," said e2v chairman Neil Johnson, who said the board will recommend the offer to shareholders.

"The board of e2v has also considered the merits of being part of a larger, complementary group with enhanced scale and a wider range of capabilities to service its key customers and management and employees having access to the opportunities available in a larger group."

e2v were advised on the the all cash offer by Investec and Rothschild and the deal is expected to close in 2017.

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