Neil Hall | Reuters
DATE IMPORTED:June 19, 2016Participants holding a British Union flag and an EU flag kiss during a pro-EU referendum event at Parliament Square in London, Britain June 19, 2016.
The volume of U.K. domestic deals this year surged to $68 billion from $34.3 billion in 2016 as the number of deals between British groups jumped from 1,480 to 1,681, the highest level since 2008, the data show.
They included online gambling company GVC’s purchase of bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral for as much as 3.9 billion pounds ($5.24 billion) and Hammerson’s 3.4 billion pound acquisition of rival shopping center operator Intu Properties.
It comes against a backdrop of often fractious Brexit negotiations between London and Brussels this year, talks that are yet to provide businesses with clarity about Britain’s future relationship with Europe.
Bosses at British companies have also been watching new U.S. President Donald Trump, whose decisions have repercussions for businesses around the world.
“At the beginning of 2017 there were a lot of questions about what was going to happen to the M&A market, given the global uncertainty caused by Brexit and the new U.S. president,” said Nick Cline, a London-based M&A partner at law firm Latham & Watkins, who said the uncertain environment had acted as a driver for some deals rather than stifling activity.
“There are a lot of corporates out there in the U.K. and Europe who are seeing the changing landscape and as a result are even more focused on what they’re going to do to be tomorrow’s leaders.”
The jump in domestic deal-making contrasted with falls in both inbound and outbound U.K. M&A volumes, the data show, with the former slipping 12.9 percent to $115.1 billion and the latter down 9.4 percent to $112.5 billion.
That meant overall M&A volumes with any U.K. involvement dipped 0.7 percent to $375 billion, a softer decline than the 1.4 percent slide in global deal volumes to $3.5 trillion, according to the data.