Belfast Telegraph

Mergers and acquisitions almost halve over three months following Brexit vote

Corporate deal-making has tumbled in the wake of the Brexit vote as merger and acquisition activity nearly halved between July and September, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said there were 140 successful £1 million or more deals worth £34 billion in the third quarter, against 278 worth £33.1 billion in the previous three months.

Despite a raft of high-profile swoops by foreign firms, M&A by overseas players for British companies fell 42% to 41 in the third quarter from 71 between April and June.

But mammoth deals - such as Japanese firm SoftBank's £24 billion takeover of Apple chip maker ARM Holdings - saw the value of foreign M&A involving UK firms rise to £28.4 billion from £22 billion in the second quarter.

The data provides the latest sign that firms are putting investment decisions on hold after the Brexit decision on June 23, with the Bank of England recently warning that corporate spending was being reined in amid uncertainty.

Domestic M&A has seen the biggest impact, with the number of deals involving UK firms buying or merging with other UK firms more than halving to 72 worth £3.2 billion from 152 worth £7.2 billion in the previous three months.

This marked a rise on a year earlier though, when there were 60 deals worth £1.2 billion.

British firms buying overseas companies also fell - to 27 worth £2.4 billion from 34 worth £1.7 billion between April and June.

But the sharp falls in the pound since the Brexit vote is thought to be helping spur on demand for foreign takeovers of British firms.

Alongside SoftBank's takeover of ARM, the third quarter also saw retail chain Poundland sold to Steinhoff International, while Amplify Snack Brand in America bought upmarket crisp firm Tyrells.

Since September, Chinese giant has also announced a £1.4 billion takeover of t ravel search website Skyscanner.

The ONS added that other major deals completed since the third quarter include Budweiser brewer Anhueser Busch InBev's £79 billion takeover of SABMiller - the biggest in UK corporate history.

Gambling giant Ladbrokes has also bought rival Gala Coral Group.