Strong UK/US axis helps drive resurgence in UK deals market in Q1

BY Fraser Tennant

The UK deals market is experiencing a major resurgence, with Q1 deal volumes up 50 percent on Q1 2014 and total deal values increasing by 96 percent, according to a new deals index published by PwC this week.

The PwC Deals Index, a survey of 103 c-suite private equity and corporate respondents, tracks global deals over £25m involving a UK asset or acquirer. Much of the resurgence in UK deal activity, claims PwC, is due to the number of 'mega deals' and the ongoing availability of capital.

Key findings presented by PwC include the disclosure that although corporate activity was the main driver of growth in terms of deal numbers – accounting for 70 percent growth compared to growth of just 2 percent in private equity led deal numbers – private equity has turned its attention to much larger deals, with average deal sizes rapidly increasing from £97m to £235m in Q1 2015.  

As far as average corporate deal values are concerned, the Index finds them remaining steady at £153m in Q1 - up from £142m in the previous quarter.

“Although headline numbers across all deal sizes showed a decline in this quarter, the market for larger deals was significantly more positive driven by the improving macroeconomic environment, increased market confidence, favourable debt markets and a strong UK/US deals axis," commented Stuart McKee, PwC's head of corporate finance in the firm’s UK deals business.

Despite the positive outlook for the UK deals market highlighted by PwC, many survey respondents stated that they believe the rapid increase in UK M&A activity seen in Q1 will begin to slow later in the year, but that the outlook for Q2 remains positive. In terms of Q2 deals, 36 percent of corporate respondents said that they are likely to make an acquisition in Q2 2015, while 85 percent of private equity respondents made a similar claim.

“Embedded in these statistics are a number of transformational deals led by private equity,” explains John Dwyer, PwC’s global head of deal business. “Our latest research indicates that our survey panel expect deal activity to remain strong for the next six months before tailing off towards the end of 2015.”

Report: PwC Deals Index Q1 2015


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