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Inbound merger and acquisition activity slumps following Brexit vote - report

Published 30/09/2016

The number of new listings on the London stock market dropped as a result of the Brexit vote, PwC said
The number of new listings on the London stock market dropped as a result of the Brexit vote, PwC said

Foreign investments in UK firms through merger and acquisition (M&A) activity has plummeted following Britain's decision to quit the European Union, a new report has revealed.

Figures released by PwC show that inbound M&A activity slumped in the two months following the referendum to £733 million from £3.8 billion last summer.

"There was a decrease in inbound deals ... which may reflect overseas buyers pausing to take stock of the EU referendum," the report explained.

PwC's report only measured completed deals worth more than £25 million.

The number of new listings on the London stock market also dropped as a result of the Brexit vote, PwC said, explaining that there were no main market initial public offerings (IPO) above £5 million in the 13 weeks following the referendum.

But the dropping value of the pound could usher in a fresh round of deals that could prop up the M&A market.

"It is too early to see exactly what impact the weaker pound will have on inbound investment, although the early signs are that activity is up as UK businesses are seen to be attractively priced," PwC said.

One of the most notable foreign acquisitions this summer included the £24 billion takeover of British technology firm ARM by Japan's Softbank, which marked the largest Asian investment into the UK to date.

But Paul Mankin, a corporate finance partner with PwC, explained the ARM deal was not officially completed before the report's cut-off period, and therefore was not included in this data set.

Summer M&A activity across the UK was dominated by domestic deals, which PwC said more than doubled in value year-on-year.

"Interestingly, activity was particularly strong in the financial services, industrial products and retail, consumer and leisure sectors - sectors thought likely to be most impacted by Brexit," the report said.

The overall number of completed deals, worth more than £25 million, rose by 54%, compared to the same period last year, up from 35 to 51 deals.

But the overall value of the total number of deals dropped to £7.4 billion, from £11.6 billion in 2015.

PwC said the drop in value was due to the fact that three "mega deals" worth around £1 billion were completed in the tech, media and telecoms sector during that same period last year, including Qualcomm's £1.5 billion acquisition of CSR, and Southbank Media's £1 billion takeover of Poland's TVN.

Excluding tech, media and telecoms, the combined deal value across all other UK sectors rose by £2.5 billion.

"The full M&A picture for Q3 2016 won't be clear until after the end of this month, however, the indications are that the appetite to complete deals continued into September," PwC said.

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