Scuppered Pfizer-AstraZeneca deal leaves UK M&A at an all-time low

Emma Haslett
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The failed buyout of AstraZeneca by Pfizer helped UK M&A to drop to a record low

Pfizer's thwarted acquisition of AstraZeneca may have kept proponents of British business happy - but it also helped push the number of mergers and acquisitions taking place in the UK to a historic low in the second quarter of 2014, official figures published this morning showed.

The number of mergers and acquisitions involving UK companies worth more than £1m fell to 73 in the three months to the end of June, the lowest since the Office for National Statistics began recording the figure in 1987. Of those, 37 were UK companies being taken over by domestic firms; 17 were overseas businesses bought by UK companies, and 19 were foreign takeovers of UK businesses.

The average value of transactions fell, too.

Domestic transactions dropped from £1.6bn in the first quarter of the year to £1.2bn in the second, while companies acquiring firms outside the UK spent an average of £2.1bn and foreign firms buying British businesses hit £1.5bn.

In May US pharmaceutical group Pfizer gave up its battle to buy AstraZeneca for £69bn, after the British firm's management insisted a deal wouldn't represent good value for shareholders.

Scuppered M&A deals in recent months are also likely to affect the next quarter's figures: over the summer, US firm Destination Maternity resolutely failed in its attempt to buy Mothercare, while on home soil, Carillion gave up trying to to buy Balfour Beatty after a lengthy battle between the two companies' management teams.

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