The UK is poised for growth: M&A activity up and number of businesses in UK passes 4m milestone

New figures show that M&A activity is up, despite Brexit volatility, and the number of companies in the UK has reached a record high – breaking the four million threshold for the first time.

New figures show that the number of companies in the UK has reached a record high – breaking the four million threshold for the first time.

At the end of February 2017 there were 4,005,093 companies and similar businesses registered in the UK – London leading the way with 1,082,600. Scotland is home to 228,631 companies, Wales to 106,636 and Northern Ireland to 55,889.

In England, outside London, the highest concentrations of businesses are in Greater Manchester (171,065), West Midlands (158,305) and Essex (113,225).  

The statistics come from company formation specialist Inform Direct, using data from Companies House and the Office of National Statistics.

The boom in business numbers is fuelled in large part by the continuing surge in company formations, with a record 664,720 companies started in the UK in 2016.

“These figures underline the positive entrepreneurial culture in the UK, with small business continuing to drive economic growth. So far, at least, we’re not seeing evidence that the Brexit vote has dented confidence among those considering starting up in business,” John Korchak, director of operations at Inform Direct said.

According to dat from Thomson Reuters, deal making is on the up as well.

The EU referendum introduced a unique level of uncertainty for UK-related deal making and dampened first half activity in 2016, which fell 55 per cent compared to the first half of 2015, and accounted for just 7 per cent of worldwide deal activity–an all-time low. The surprise results of the vote temporarily shook markets, but within a month, Japan’s SoftBank announced a $30.8 billion bid for ARM Holdings started a resurgence in UK involvement M&A activity that would place the fourth quarter among the largest of all time.

Post-Brexit vote M&A with UK involvement totals $353.2 billion. Although down 17 per cent from the same period the year before, in which Anheuser-Busch Inbev announced a US$110.6 billion bid for SABMiller Plc, post-Brexit vote period UK involvement M&A is at its second highest level in nine years. While deals targeting UK companies have fallen, UK outbound M&A has increased 33 per cent from that same period.

Announced M&A with any UK involvement totals US$67.7 billion so far during 2017, up 38 per cent compared to the same period in 2016, and the highest year-to-date since 2011.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

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