Slump in corporate deal-making amid Brexit uncertainty and fall in pound
Corporate deal-making has slumped in the first three months of 2017 as overseas investment in UK firms tumbled to its lowest level for more than two years.
Official figures showed overseas firms completed 40 deals to buy or merge with UK firms worth £5.1 billion in the first quarter - a fraction of the £50.4 billion seen a year earlier and the lowest value since the end of 2014.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the number of deals between UK firms also dropped sharply between January and March, almost halving to 48 from 93 a year earlier and down from 90 in the previous quarter.
And there were just 26 acquisitions of foreign companies by UK firms worth £1.9 billion, which was the lowest value recorded for more than three years.
Overall, there were 127 domestic and cross-border deals completed in the first quarter, the ONS said.
It comes amid Brexit uncertainty, which is seeing many companies put investment decisions on hold, and follows the pound's slump since the EU referendum.
But the ONS pointed out there were a number of very high valued deals seen last year and added the average number of deals has held "broadly stable" since the financial crisis.
Major deals completed in the first quarter include Bupa's takeover of Oasis Dental Care in the UK, power firm Drax Group's acquisition of Opus Energy, as well as Canadian firm Onex Corporation's £1.35 billion takeover of holiday park giant Parkdean Resorts.