Monday 18 April 2016 12:01 am

EU referendum and Brexit risk low priority for dealmakers in global M&A survey

The prospect of a Brexit is a low-priority risk for global dealmakers, a new mergers and acquisitions (M&A) report suggests.

Research by law firm Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) also found global appetite for M&A has been largely unaffected by economic volatility in 2016.

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The authors of the report, out today, have told City A.M. that, looking at the appetite for M&A, activity could increase beyond the 2015 boom in 2017 and 2018.

HSF asked 700 respondents to rank their top three risk factors for the M&A market from a list of eight.

The top risk identified was instability in the Eurozone, followed by a slowdown in Chinese demand.

The possibility of a Brexit ranked bottom of the list behind rising tensions in the South China Seas and Middle East unrest.

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The EU referendum was named as the third biggest risk among 60 UK dealmakers, behind Eurozone instability and low commodity prices.

The report said: "In spite of fears over a breakaway from the EU – the so-called Brexit – the UK is… expected to maintain its position at the heart of the European M&A market."

The survey found that 72 per cent of UK respondents are planning to make two or more acquisitions over the next three years, with 96 per cent saying their next deal is likely to be cross-border.

Stephen Wilkinson, HSF's global head of M&A, told City A.M.: “We do think there is been a bit of a pause for thought for Brexit, but you’ve got major deals still being announced like LSE and Deutsche Boerse.”

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Roddy Martin, M&A partner, added: “If you look at it from a Chinese perspective, or even a US perspective… they’re looking at things on a much more macro level.

"So they want an operation there and they don’t see Brexit as being as prominent as some of the more global and macro-economic headwinds.”

Antitrust tops the list of challenges facing M&A, with data protection and cybersecurity anxieties on the rise.