Drop in South West mergers and acquisitions down to uncertainty

Kirill Bingham, South West corporate solicitor and Partner at Clarke Willmott LLP.

The latest M&A review by Experian Market IQ found a two per cent fall in the number of transactions recorded in the South West to date during 2019 at 383, compared to 405 at the same time in 2018.

South West corporate solicitor and Partner at national law firm Clarke Willmott LLP, Kirill Bingham, says the drop in the number of deals is not surprising given the ongoing political and economic uncertainty.

Kirill said: “These are quite tumultuous times so it is understandable that certain businesses are feeling unsettled and therefore are being cautious with deals. This seems to be the trend across the whole of the UK.

“Having said this, the value of mergers and acquisitions in the South West so far in 2019 totals £12.5bn, which is nearly three times the 2018 figure for the same period.

“This clearly demonstrates that in the right circumstances deals are still being put together and although the quantity might not be at the same level as during the previous year, the quality of deals in the South West is very impressive.”

Clarke Willmott has a specialist team of mergers and acquisitions solicitors advising public and private companies, institutional investors and private individuals.

Discussing what he thinks the reasons for the latest figures are Kirill comments: “There remains a significant amount of funding available from multiple sources so this is helping deal numbers and first time buyers to enter the market.

“There is however uncertainty regarding future capital gains tax rates, and the current availability of entrepreneurs relief is leading to owners considering their exit strategy sooner than perhaps expected.

“Finally it’s important to remember that not all deals are reported due to confidentiality so we have to consider the context against which the numbers are presented.”
Kirill says his firm has been very busy this year on deals across a range of sectors despite the apparent regional downturn.

“At Clarke Willmott we’ve found that our corporate teams across our offices remain very active and our deal numbers and volume of work is currently strong, although the pipeline is slightly more uncertain,” said Kirill.

“We’ve been involved in a varied spectrum of sectors and also seen larger than usual number of transactions involving the existing management teams.”

Clarke Willmott LLP is a national law firm with seven offices across the country in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, London, Manchester, Southampton and Taunton.