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    January M&A update: UK at the forefront of European activity and KBS Corporate up 25% on last year

    A total of 610 deals were announced involving UK targets in January with an aggregate deal value of almost £26bn, according to M&A deals database, Zephyr.

    The figures see the UK remain at the forefront of European M&A activity with Germany, Poland, France and Spain making up the rest of the top 5 with 386, 298, 263 and 246 deals respectively.

    January’s most valuable transaction was the £12.5bn acquisition of EE Ltd by BT Group PLC. The deal finally received clearance by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to create a communications giant offering fixed-line phones, broadband, mobile and television.

    Mid-market deals

    Amongst the multi-billion deals which stole the headlines in January was also selection of mid-market deals (transactions typically falling between £10m and £50m in value) including business process outsourcing and integrated professional support service solutions provider, Capita PLC’s, £14m acquisition of Paypoint PLC’s online payments business, the £11.85m acquisition of multi-faceted construction and development company, CA Blackwell Group Ltd by Hargreaves Services PLC and New York-based Zeno Group Inc’s acquisition of 3 Monkeys Communications Ltd, a London-based communications and PR agency, for a reported £15m.

    Active acquirers

    In addition to Capita PLC’s purchase of Paypoint’s online payments business, the acquisitive company also completed the takeover of Brightwave Ltd, an e-learning company that specialises in designing learning solutions to improve performance in businesses.

    Countrywide PLC, the UK’s largest estate agency group with over 11,000 employees, added a further four business to its portfolio with the acquisitions of Ashby Lowery, Bulmer’s Lettings Agency Ltd, Lanes Land Ltd and Woods Estate Agents.

    Blackrock investment management Ltd also completed minority stake acquisitions of Greggs PLC, Ocado Group PLC and WM Morrison Supermarkets PLC for undisclosed values.

    Overseas activity

    Several of January’s high value deals were facilitated by overseas acquirers, with US based Equinix Inc and Acadia Healthcare Company Inc completing the £2.5bn acquisition of Telecity Group PLC and the £1.5bn acquisition of Priory Group Ltd respectively.

    Interest also came from further afield as Indian-based IT solutions providers, HCL technologies Ltd, completed the acquisitions of Wokingham based Point to Point Ltd and Point to Point Products Ltd for a total fee of £8m.

    Chinese firms Bellecapital Holding AG, Hoerbiger Holding AG and Yerra Solutions AG completed the takeovers of Williams De Broe Ltd, Newson gale Ltd and Smarter Connect Ltd respectively, whilst Australian Securities Exchange-listed Treasury Wine Estates Ltd agreed to acquire the majority of assets from Diageo PLC’s US and UK wine operations for a total consideration in excess of £407m.

    Deal volumes up by a quarter at KBS Corporate

    With the UK M&A market proving to be particularly active throughout January, KBS Corporate experienced firsthand an increase in appetite as we entered 2016, completing 25% more sales compared to January 2015.

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