UK businesses splashing out on foreign firms

Tim Wallace
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BRITISH firms have roared back to life in the last six months, spending billions buying up overseas businesses, official figures released yesterday showed.

UK businesses bought 41 foreign firms worth more than £1m in the first quarter of 2015, the highest number since early 2012.

That is up from 35 in the final three months of 2014, and continues a strong rebound from an all-time low of seven in the third quarter of 2013.

The value of those deals came in at £8.5bn, down on the quarter but more than four times the £1.9bn in the first quarter of 2014.

However, the number of outward acquisitions remains well down on the pre-crash high of 141 in a single quarter of 2007.

Meanwhile UK firms have been buying fewer of their domestic rivals.

Just 56 such takeover transactions worth more than £1m took place in the first quarter of the year, down from 40 in the same period of 2014.

The highest level on record before the financial crisis was 258 such deals – again in the third quarter of 2007.

Inward investment into the UK – that is, foreign firms buying or merging with British businesses – fell to a two-year low.

A total of 21 firms were purchased by foreign businesses, down from 29 in the same period of 2014.

They were worth a total of £4.7bn, compared with £5.6bn 12 months earlier.