The first quarter of the year has seen the highest value of mergers and acquisitions involving UK firms since the financial crisis, owing to two big takeovers.
The value of takeovers of UK companies by foreign firms rose to £49.4bn between January and March, the highest since the second quarter of 2007, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This compares with £9.2bn at the end of 2015.
Shell’s £35bn takeover of BG Group accounted for most of the first-quarter total. The number of deals fell, however, from 49 to 29 in the fourth quarter.
The value of takeovers between UK companies rose to £11.6bn, up from £1.2bn in the fourth quarter and the highest since the end of 2008. This reflected BT Group’s acquisition of mobile operator EE, Britain’s largest mobile phone network. The deal was valued at £12.5bn including debt, which was not included in the ONS figures.
Overall, there were 114 domestic and cross-border acquisitions and mergers involving UK companies in the first quarter, valued at about £68bn. The number of acquisitions made abroad by UK companies fell to 22, the lowest since the end of 2013.
The ONS said: “Despite quarter-on-quarter volatility, the total number of mergers and acquisitions involving UK companies remains at a historically low level of activity.”