M&A activity in the UK declined sharply in the first half of 2016 according to new figures from Mergermarket. The report, published at the beginning of July, reveals a 50 per cent drop in the value of completed transactions between April and June, and states that companies have postponed deals ‘cautious of the impact [on] exchange rates and questioning what they will actually be buying into, unaware of how future negotiations will affect them’.
It’s true that periods of uncertainty affect business confidence, which in turn feeds through into investment activity. But our experience is that uncertainty can also bring opportunity. Our financial services regulatory teams are particularly busy as they work with clients to shape their strategies for the future. While our transactional lawyers have experience some market volatility, the discussions I have had since the referendum paint a more nuanced picture of the current situation. Some deals have been put on hold but others are still very much on, including a number that might have been vulnerable to recent events.
As the dust begins to settle we expect deal activity to return. It has to – businesses need to invest, to grow, and the while the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with Europe is unclear, in the immediate term nothing has changed since 23 June. Currency fluctuations making Europe an attractive opportunity for investors across the world and in the end, M&A activity will continue as long as buyers are able to effectively price risk. This involves complex economic, regulatory and political calculations – but they are not insurmountable.
Mergermarket's "Global and regional M&A: H1 2016" report showed merger and acquisition activity value in the U.K. dropped 50.5 percent on-quarter in the April - June period to $19.3 billion from $38.9 billion.