Down but not out: UK M&A performance takes a hit in 2017 but greater clarity on Brexit allows cautious optimism for year ahead


Global M&A activity is also to face uncertainty in 2018

UK M&A market performance dropped significantly at the end of 2017 with dealmakers recording their weakest quarterly results for the year in the final three months, according to M&A data published by Willis Towers Watson. UK deal volumes also dropped in 2017 to 38 completed deals over $100 million, compared to 46 in 2016.

The research shows that the UK market has struggled to sustain the resilience demonstrated in 2016 when outperforming the Index by 5.0pp (percentage points), with the value of deals made in 2017 down by more than half and the market’s decline most acute in the final quarter, underperforming the Index by 2.4pp.

Jana Mercereau, Head of Corporate Mergers and Acquisitions for Great Britain, said: “Deal volumes in the UK market had until recently been sustained by sellers wishing to monetise the high prices being paid for quality assets. However, as well as highlighting the difficulty of delivering successful deals in an overpriced market, the data suggests the spectre of uncertainty caused by Brexit weighed heavily on the UK M&A market and, ultimately, how well these deals performed.”