Pre-election jitters hit M&A activity

M&A activity down 19% on this time last year

The value of M&A deals recorded in the first quarter of 2015 is down 19% from the comparable period in 2014, according to research by Experian.

The total value of deals in 2015 Q1 was £63.4 billion – down from £78.4 billion in 2014 Q1. The total number of deals recorded also fell. It was 1,458 in the first quarter of last year and stands at only 1,162 in 2015 – a drop of 20%.

The figures are surprising given the widely forecast increase in M&A activity for 2015. But investors adopting a “wait and see” approach until after the election is the most likely reason for the slow down.

Despite the fall in activity there were still plenty of transatlantic deals concluded. UK companies completed 23 deals for US businesses with a combined total value of £4.1 billion.

>See also: Top 15 M&A deals of 2014 announced

Within the UK the financial services and insurance sector was the most active. Almost one-third (31%) of all deals originated from the area. But even this sector saw a fall compared to 2014. It fell from 439 to 358 in a year – down 16%.

The manufacturing industry was one that saw an increase in activity. Total deal value reached £20.6 billion, representing a 22% increase from the 2014 figure (£16.9bn). Arts, education and recreation saw the biggest percentage increase, with total value rising from just £92 million to £1.2 billion.

Experian UK&I business development manager Wendy Driver said that the slow start to the year “does not come as too much of a surprise”.

“Investors thrive on certainty and many will wait to see if the upcoming general election has any effect on the market before moving to complete deals,” she said.

“The M&A market is expected to pick up as the year goes on, so businesses considering a purchase or a deal should start researching potential targets at the earliest opportunity.”

Further reading on M&A: Tech M&A at 15 year high

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