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Financial services and telecoms industries stay strong as M&A deals drop across the UK

The total number of UK mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and Equity Capital Market (ECM) transactions in H1 2013 fell by 17.3 per cent – from 2,491 in H1 2012 to 2,060 – according to Experian.

Despite the fall across the UK, the financial services and telecoms sectors flourished with the financial sector accounting for a third of all transactions in H1 2013 (670 transactions).  It was one of the few sectors to return to positive M&A growth, up by around 4 per cent on H1 2012’s 649 deals.
The telecoms sector also saw a significant increase in transaction values with deals worth GBP23.8billion announced in H1 2013, up from just GBP4.4billion in H1 2012. Activity in the telecoms industry generally picked up across Europe. Overall volumes were up by 11.9 per cent, while deal value increased by 77 per cent – and the UK was a major player, accounting for around a third of deals in all. The financial sector continues to drive deal-making in the UK accounting for 32.5 per cent of the overall UK total as well as.
Smaller sized deals (worth GBP500,000 to GBP10million) managed to remain static at 665 deals, the same number seen in H1 2012 – largely due to a flurry of fundraising transactions in the first quarter. 
The overall fall in M&A activity across the UK was led by mid-market and larger companies.  Mid-market transactions (GBP10million to GBP100million) were down by 39.8 per cent while deals worth GBP100million or more fell by 27.1 per cent – from 173 in H1 2012 to 125 in H1 2013.  Deals involving the UK’s biggest firms (with a consideration of more than GBP1billion) fell to just ten deals during this period compared with 28 deals last year. 
This significantly impacted values which were down by 45 per cent – GBP82.6billion in H1 2013 compared to H1 2012’s GBP150.2billion worth of deals.
All but one of these very large transactions were cross border; the largest inward deal was US cable television group Liberty Global’s GBGBP15bn takeover of Virgin Media, which completed in June, while the largest outward deal saw Vodafone Group agree to acquire German telecoms firm Kabel Deutschland for around GBP6.6billion. The biggest UK transaction was Manchester Airport Group’s purchase of Stansted Airport for GBP1.5billion in January 2013. In H1 2012, 24 out of 28 very large deals were cross border.
Transaction volume in Europe declined by 21 per cent on H1 2012 figures, while deals in Asia were also down by 28.6 per cent. It was a similar picture in the US, although lesser volumes here were countered by a 12.3 per cent increase in deal value – from GBP294billion to GBP330billion – allowing the country to regain its status as the most valuable M&A marketplace in the first half of 2013.
Wendy Driver, Business Development Manager at Experian UK&I, says: “UK businesses still seem to be maintaining a watchful, wait and see, attitude towards M&A so far this year.  Subject to the economic outlook continuing to improve, we would anticipate an increase in companies looking to grow by acquisition as we move into the second half of 2013. Some sectors are further along the road to recovery than others and the strong activity we are witnessing in the telecoms and financial services sectors is encouraging.”

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