Signs of Hope, but Not Yet Time to Hang out the Flags; Corporate and Commercial Partner with Acuity Paul Lowe Reflects on Mergers and Acquisitions in Wales and the Outlook for This Year

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), January 24, 2015 | Go to article overview

Signs of Hope, but Not Yet Time to Hang out the Flags; Corporate and Commercial Partner with Acuity Paul Lowe Reflects on Mergers and Acquisitions in Wales and the Outlook for This Year


LAST year was supposed to be the year when economic confi-dence returned to the UK and the long-awaited recovery started to produce meaningful benefits for us all.

If the current state of the M&A and capital markets are anything to go by, the deal statistics do not bear this out. In the first three quarters of 2014, deal volumes and values in the UK have remained largely the same as 2013.

In Q1, deal values leapt up and commentators thought that this was the start of a strong run in the corporate finance markets.

Confidence was relatively high, unemployment reducing, interest rates were low and inflation appeared to be under control and getting back to the 2% target.

The number of mega deals (above PS1bn) more than doubled this year producing plenty of headline-grabbing activity, but the number of smaller deals, involving the companies that traditionally have the greatest impact on employment, has been down some 6%.

In Wales the number of deals completed up to Q4 has been relatively stagnant although their aggregate value has increased substantially to PS1.4bn (the equivalent period last year producing deals valued at only PS300m).

While this looks good on paper, PS700m was accounted for in the flotation of SSP Group and sale of SPTS Technologies to an Israeli group. The other large corporate deal in Wales involved the sale of the hugely successful Welsh-based company Penn Pharmaceuticals by its private equity owners to US packaging group, Packaging Co-ordinators Inc.

Finance Wales has had another strong year with successful exits from Vista Retail Support and Wholebake, both of which have produced excellent returns, not only in financial terms for Finance Wales, but for the Welsh economy more generally.

The sectors which have held up best nationally have again been financial services and insurance with manufacturing next up.

In Wales manufacturing company deals have led the way closely followed by wholesaling. …

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Signs of Hope, but Not Yet Time to Hang out the Flags; Corporate and Commercial Partner with Acuity Paul Lowe Reflects on Mergers and Acquisitions in Wales and the Outlook for This Year
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