NEW YORK (TheStreet) Tech M&A declined substantially this quarter. Dell ( DELL) buyout possibilities aside, there were just $8.9 billion in announced technology deals in the U.S. That's down from $23.4 billion last quarter and $15.8 billion in the quarter before, according to Dealogic. And it wasn't just deal volume that was in decline. There were less deals in total. We saw 552 this quarter, compared to the 600+ technology deals we saw in each quarter last year. Overall U.S. M&A activity was also down.
RRE Ventures managing partner, James Robinson IV, attributes the decline in activity to market uncertainty surrounding "DC cliffhangers." Due to the presidential election and fiscal cliff negotiations, end of the year deal discussions were put on hold. But as the markets regained stability, deal talks resumed. Looking forward, Robinson says "M&A is coming, and big." Frank Aquila, co-head of Sullivan & Cromwell's global corporate practice, is also optimistic about tech deals. "Look for a significant number of tech deals over the next year or so," said Aquila in an email. "As the larger players seek to better position themselves to compete, they will look to make both significant strategic acquisitions as well as bolt-on acquisitions." Bankers are also predicting an uptick in tech M&A. Chet Bozdog, global head of technology investment banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, says "we expect 2013 to be a big year for tech M&A due to CEO confidence levels, the amount of cash on corporate balance sheets and the existence of reasonable valuations in the marketplace." Jeffery Bistrong, managing director at Harris Williams, is also optimistic about technology deals, particularly in the software and healthcare IT spaces. So which tech companies are in play? Industry experts tell TheStreet that the following companies are sensible or likely acquisition targets.