EU referendum: 2015 was record year for UK-targeted deals from Europe despite approaching Brexit vote

William Turvill
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Britain is to vote on whether to stay in the EU on 23 June (Source: Getty)

The looming referendum was not enough to put European Union countries off doing business with the UK last year, newly-compiled figures show.

Some $206bn (£143bn) worth of deals in which businesses based in other EU countries acquired British counterparts were announced last year.

This marked a new record, according to Dealogic, and was up from $12.3bn worth of deals announced in 2014.

Read more: Dealmakers shrug their shoulders at Brexit in global M&A survey

It also followed three consecutive years in which the level of deals decreased.

The total was buoyed by Belgian beverage company Anheuser-Busch InBev’s $117.4bn bid for SABMiller, announced in October last year, which was the biggest UK-targeted M&A deal on record.

The year-to-date total in 2016 is $15.3bn, which is down from $72.5bn in the same period last year, with the figure boosted by Royal Dutch Shell's $66bn acquisition of BG Group, announced in April 2015. But the 2016 year-to-date figure has already beaten the full-year figure for 2014.

Meanwhile, UK domestic M&A activity was down 19 per cent in 2015 to $85.3bn. And UK acquisitions into the EU decreased by 54 per cent in 2015 to $23.2bn.

Read more: Shell and BT deals can't save UK investment banking revenue fall

Commenting on the figures, Caroline Rae, a corporate M&A partner at Herbert Smith Freehills, told City A.M.: “The UK is an attractive destination for international M&A dealmakers for many reasons, including the availability of quality assets, attractive valuation of targets, a low corporation tax rate and the availability and costs of finance.

“We are currently in a period of uncertainty with the threat of Brexit but the UK is expected to maintain its position at the heart of the European M&A market.”

Britain is set to vote on whether to remain inside the EU on 23 June. The referendum has been looming since May last year when the Conservative Party, which included a pledge to hold a referendum in its manifesto, won the general election.

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