US-backed deals see UK stay top of buyout league

Michael Bow
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THE UK fended off competition from European rivals last year to keep its title as the biggest buyout market, thanks to a rise in US-sponsored deals, a new report suggests today.

Just over a quarter of all the cash spent in Europe last year by buyout shops was used to buy British firms, down from 39 per cent in 2012.

But the 243 deals clinched in the UK was larger than the number signed for companies in France (159) Germany (103), Italy (62) and Holland (52), according to the report from White & Case.

Driving the UK dealmaking numbers was US-backed buyouts, with around 70 per cent of acquisitions made by US firms, the figures show.

It means just over a third of all the cash spent by US buyout houses across Europe last year flowed into the UK.

“The London market is the ‘hub’ market for European private equity and this position will strengthen over the next decade,” partner Ian Bagshaw said.

Business services and leisure companies were the most popular sectors to target in the UK, with 21 per cent and 20 per cent of all buyouts in these sectors respectively.

The UK also remained the biggest market for values, with €18.6bn (£15bn) spent, versus €12.8bn in Germany.