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UK firms defying uncertainty, says EY

Nov 14
Tags: Ernst & Young LLP
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UK firms defying uncertainty, says EY

According to EY's 17th Global Capital Confidence Barometer, 60 per cent of companies in the UK are planning to acquire assets in the next 12 months.

This is nine per cent higher than the figure recorded in April 2017 and four per cent up on the global figure.

UK acquirers are primarily looking to the US, while France, Germany and India were also identified as popular outbound destinations.

The surge of activity comes despite ongoing economic uncertainties and geopolitical risks, which 47 per cent of UK respondents said they are concerned about.

This might partly explain why 50 per cent of UK firms are reviewing their portfolios continuously or every three months - compared with 42 per cent of firms across the globe overall.

Steve Ivermee, transaction advisory services managing partner at EY, commented: "UK companies are facing an unprecedented breadth of challenge and change. 

"Given these risks, the confidence shown by UK companies implies a strong belief in their ability to respond."

Mr Ivermee noted that even amid a "maelstrom of change", the UK is currently third on the global M&A destination list, just behind the US and China and ahead of Germany and Australia.

This, he said, is a measure of the attractiveness of the country's open economy and its "eye-catching IP-rich assets".

As a result, he believes the M&A market will continue to remain very active, particularly domestically, as companies are aiming to both innovate and protect themselves against rising costs.

Mr Ivermee went on to suggest that British businesses could be using M&A as a lower-risk alternative to research and development, adding that many are favouring technology investments acting as a "gateway to their digital future".

According to the EY report, 27 per cent of UK businesses consider "acquiring innovation" as the biggest strategic acquisition driver at the moment.

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