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Region’s deal bonanza helps UK return to pre-recession levels

12:58 08 January 2016

Photo Caption: Darren Bear, Corporate Finance Partner, Grant Thornton

Photo Caption: Darren Bear, Corporate Finance Partner, Grant Thornton

Archant

The region’s dealmakers came back with a bang last year, as a £17bn leap in the value of transactions helped drive activity back to pre-recession levels.

The East of England signed off a flurry of deals, triggering a rise in value from £8.1bn in 2014 to £25.1bn last year, according to research by Experian Corpfin.

It came as the number of M&A and equity capital market deals rose 27.3pc to 527, with Grant Thornton – based locally at St James Place, Norwich – emerging as the most active regional financial adviser with 17 deals.

Law firm Mills & Reeve, which has offices at Whitefriars, Norwich, topped the East of England league table for the most active legal advisors, notching 41 deals.

The east’s strong performance reflected the picture nationally, as growing business confidence sparked a 10.3pc uptick in transactions to 6,532, while the total value of deals leapt 56pc to £433bn. It was the highest recorded total since £576bn in the year 2000, Experian said.

Jane Turner, research manager at Experian Market IQ, said: “The last year was characterised by strong growth in the UK M&A market. We have seen both the volume and value of deals up substantially year-on-year, record valuations at the top-end of the market and high levels of private equity activity, both on the buy-side and the sell-side.

“It’s also encouraging to see dealmakers looking to smaller companies to make investments so SMEs can get the expertise and funding they need to help them grow.

“Overseas investors have also shown confidence in the UK economy by investing in greater numbers, and domestic and international dealmakers will now be conducting thorough research as they search for businesses ripe for investment in 2016.”

The Deal Review and Advisor League Table report compiled by Experian Corpfin focused on M&A and ECM transactions across the UK and Ireland.

Darren Bear, leader of Grant Thornton’s Central and East Corporate Finance team, said: “It’s fantastic we have been recognised as the number one financial adviser to companies across the region, and the UK as a whole.

“Throughout last year we saw increasing evidence of a strengthening market with buyers prepared to pay a premium for quality companies. With a significant increase in overall deal numbers and value both here in the East of England and across the UK, the M&A market is definitely back to its pre-recession form.”

“We are also experiencing a significant upturn in overseas interest, particularly from US buyers who have been relatively conservative over recent years and built up large cash reserves which they are now ready to deploy.

“We expect the buoyant level of M&A activity we are currently seeing to continue well into 2016.”

• Do you have a business story for the Eastern Daily Press? Contact business editor Ben Woods on 01603 772426 or email ben.woods@archant.co.uk

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