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Brexit expected to depress UK deal making

Sixty-three percent of deal makers feel Brexit will make UK companies less attractive acquisition targets; 38% expect a decrease in M&A.


  1. M&A activity within the UK had a strong 2018, with $283 billion in transactions from
    3,208 deals, representing growth of 35% from 2017.
  2. Concern about Brexit is feeding through to expectations about 2019 deal making activity within the UK itself, with 38% of deal makers expecting a decrease in M&A.
  3. Refinitiv’s 2019 Deal Makers Sentiment Survey reveals that, by wide margins, respondents in all regions feel that Brexit will make UK companies less attractive acquisition targets. However, this doesn’t necessarily translate to EU companies becoming more attractive.

M&A activity within the UK had a strong 2018, with $283 billion in transactions from
3,208 deals, representing growth of 35% from 2017. However, Brexit remains a wild
card, with no one really sure what will happen after March 29, 2019 when the UK is
set to leave the European Union (EU). Whilst the situation is very fluid, the possible
outcomes include the unpopular withdrawal agreement or no deal at all. Both these
outcomes will have significant impact on economic activity and likely depress deal
flow, making corporations less likely to make deals until they have more clarity.

Refinitiv’s 2019 Deal Makers Sentiment Survey reveals that, by wide margins, respondents in all regions feel that Brexit will make UK companies less attractive acquisition targets. However, this doesn’t necessarily translate to EU companies becoming more attractive.

The political instability and the expectation that the UK will end up on a worse competitive footing with respect to trade are clearly negative factors for companies considering an acquisition of a UK company. M&A activity within the UK was strong in 2018, with $283 billion in transactions from 3,208 deals, representing growth of 35% from 2017. To a large extent, these numbers were boosted by the $77 billion acquisition of Shire PLC by Takeda Pharmaceuticals.

Concern about Brexit is feeding through to expectations about 2019 deal making activity within the UK itself, with 38% of deal makers expecting a decrease in M&A. This nets out to an expected decrease of 4.1% in deal value.

“Trade tensions in the US, political upheaval in Europe with Brexit and increasing protectionism on a global scale are having an effect on sentiment in the M&A market. As we enter the sixth year of the most recent cycle for deal making, it is clear that expectations are muted as levels of confidence shift around the world.”

Data is just the beginning

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Read the full 2019 Deal Makers Sentiment Survey
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