Foreign takeovers in the UK hit record levels last year as Megabrew and BG-Shell deals completed

William Turvill
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Anheuser-Busch InBev Eyes Potential Purchase Of Rival Miller
The £79bn Megabrew deal completed in October last year (Source: Getty)

Foreign takeovers of British companies reached record levels last year as mega-deals announced during 2015 were tied up.

In 2016, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) tracked 227 foreign takeovers, the highest annual number since 2011, worth £187.4bn, the highest total value since records began in 1969.

These figures were boosted by AB InBev’s £79bn takeover of SABMiller and Royal Dutch Shell’s £35bn BG Group acquisition.

Read more: Standard Life-Aberdeen deal expected to spark asset management M&A flurry

Other statistics show that 2016 was a subdued year for UK mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity, which was hit by uncertainty around the EU referendum and the Brexit vote. However, the ONS stats differ because they focus on completed deals rather than newly announced ones.

The ONS figures, released today, also show it was a strong year for domestic M&A, helped by BT’s £12.5bn EE deal and the Sainsbury’s takeover of Argos.

The ONS said 400 domestic deals worth £23.9bn were successful during the year, the highest number and value since 2008.

Read more: This isn’t an M&A bubble: It’s the start of an unprecedented boom

Elsewhere, UK companies held back from international takeovers last year.

The ONS found 135 outbound UK deals worth £16.7bn during the year, down from 170 worth £25.6bn in 2015.

In the final quarter, there were 13 worth £3.1bn, down from 49 worth £3.1bn in the third quarter and 51 worth £3bn in the last quarter of 2015. Outbound deals completed included information business Informa’s £1.2bn deal for US rival Penton.

This year has started with a flurry of deals, including Tesco’s £3.7bn Booker takeover, the £11bn Standard Life-Aberdeen Asset Management merger and Reckitt Benckiser’s $16.6bn bid for Mead Johnson.

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