One in four UK deals broke down last year, and more M&A collapses are expected in 2017

William Turvill
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Kraft Heinz pulled out of a Unilever takeover approach last month (Source: Getty)

One in four deals involving UK listed firms broke down in failure last year, new analysis today shows.

And, with further economic and political uncertainty on the way, more disrupted deals are thought to be on the cards this year.

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Accountancy firm Moore Stephens found that 16 of 66 deals (24 per cent) involving fully listed UK companies failed in the year to 31 December, compared with 18 out of 81 (22 per cent) in 2015.

Included in the 2016 tally were the failed acquisition of Darty by furniture retailer Conforama France and the 888 Holdings and Rank Group bid to buy William Hill.

This year, US company Kraft Heinz pulled out of a bid for UK-listed Unilever, while the London Stock Exchange-Deutsche Boerse merger is on the ropes.

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“Political and economic turbulence tends to make business more cautious about taking on the risks of an M&A deal, especially where a deal might require the bidder to add substantially to their level of debt,” said Debbie Clarke, head of M&A at Moore Stephens.

“It is too early to say that there actually is a rise in economic nationalism that might put deals at jeopardy, but is definitely a risk M&A teams need to mitigate.”

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