12 years of M&A – the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune???

Twelve years ago today I joined EvolutionCBS, a sell-side M&A Consultancy.

Looking back over these years it’s been fun remembering many things, some frustrating – for example, I was a size six then (and I don’t want to mention what that is now), the London Olympics and the celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s 60 years on the throne.

But now, with so much doom and gloom about the economy, I wanted to look back over these years to get a clearer picture of the changes in the deal landscape where the sellers were UK businesses.

In 2012 The UK economy had been stagnating for some years, with high inflation and debt, but with unemployment levels reducing. Déjà vu anyone??










Dealmaking was similarly stagnating until 2015 broke the record with a boom in acquisitions of UK companies. Maybe that was a result of the ‘feelgood factor’ as 2014 saw the UK reach its highest temperature since records began. The 2015 deal numbers were not surpassed until 2021!  Mind you, during that time Britain decided to part company with the EU, creating uncertainty and consequently risk for dealmakers.

But without doubt the most challenging year was 2020, both personally and for many friends who suffered badly from COVID. . And what would the world have done without Zoom?

In that year, as you would expect, the number of acquisitions fell through the floor. That is until Q4 when the SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Vehicle) was born and dealmaking reached record levels. But SPAC’s weren’t the only driver. With exceptionally low interest rates continuing, acquisitions provided much higher returns and the amount of ‘dry powder’ was at a record high.

But at the end of every boom there is at least a levelling off. And the last few years have seen that, with dealmaking hit by the Brexit effect, the war in Ukraine and the surge in inflation. No surprise really that 2023 saw a drop in deal volumes.

But there are signs of hope for a recovery in transaction volumes in 2024. A Bloomberg survey noted that 88% of UK corporates have a positive outlook for M&A activity in 2024 and are predicting larger transactions.

Looking back, it seems to me that the underlying reasons for M&A remain strong and, whilst there are some exceptional highs, the market always settles (barring Pandemics).

If the trends (and Bloomberg surveys) are anything to go by, 2024 could be a great year for M&A.

Here’s to success.

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