Norfolk Business Awards 2018

Wholesale and retail deals bring in billions for East of England M&A market

Generic photo of a handshake during a business meeting. Photo: Alexander Raths

Generic photo of a handshake during a business meeting. Photo: Alexander Raths


Manufacturing companies led the way in the deals market in the East of England in the first half of the year, according to new figures.

An Experian report showed there were 264 mergers and acquisitions and equity capital markets (ECM) deals announced in the region in the first half of 2017 – down 16% on the same period last year.

However the value of deals in the region rose by 6% year-on-year, with £13bn confirmed so far in 2017.

The report, compiled by MarketIQ, revealed manufacturing took nearly a third (30%) of all deals, with professional services taking 25%. Wholesale and retail trades took 23% but won in the value stakes, being responsible for around £10.4bn worth of transactions.

RSM, which has a base in Bury St Edmunds, and Grant Thornton, which has premises in Norwich and Ipswich, were the most active financial advisers in the region with five deals a-piece, while Mills & Reeve, which also operates in Norwich, was in the top three most active legal advisers having worked on nine transactions.

The East saw falls in small, mid-market and large deals in the first half, with total transaction almost halving from £5.75bn to £2.9bn.

Jane Turner, research manager at Experian MarketIQ, said: “Overall M&A activity hasn’t quite hit the heights of 2016, but our robust set of H1 figures still represent a strong return in the context of the last ten years.

“While some buyers are understandably approaching transactions with heightened caution given ongoing ambiguities associated with Brexit and an ever more tumultuous political environment, the UK remains and attractive place to make deals – with relatively straightforward access to capital and record low interest rates – and we’ve seen strong activity across a range of industries so far this year.”

She added that inward investment in the UK is on the up, as sterling’s decrease in value makes it more attractive to overseas investors.

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