RSM’s corporate finance team has topped the M&A advisory league table in the North West. The middle market audit tax and advisory firm competed 20 deals in the region during the first nine months of this year, according to the latest data from Experian on the most active M&A financial advisers in the UK in the first three quarters of 2020.
Overall, the number of transactions in the region was down by 34 per cent on the same period last year, according to the data. The value of North West deals was boosted by two large deals, bringing the total value to £8.6bn. Acquisitions remain the most popular type of deal in the region, while private equity rose from 16.8 per cent to 20.1%, and rights issues increased from 2.6 per cent to 6.4 per cent.
Experian’s data showed flotations also increased, with four in the North West so far this year, compared to only one in the region in 2019 but there was a decline in M&A activity across all sectors. Professional services was the most active sector in the region, with 122 transactions in total, down a fifth by volume (20.8 per cent) on 2019 figures but increasing in value. Other sectors including manufacturing, infocomms, and wholesale and retail also saw the values of M&A activity increase.
Following a strong start to the year, quarter 2 saw a significant drop in volume as the impact of lockdown and Coronavirus uncertainty took hold, but quarter 3 showed signs of recovery.
Rob McCarthy, Head of Corporate Finance, North West, at RSM comments: ‘This has been an exceptionally difficult year, but there have been some positive signs, most notably increased deal values and volumes in the telecoms and tech sector. This sector has bucked the trend, partly due to an increased need for technology as many more people work from home. Regional activity has been bolstered by private equity investors seeking safe harbour in these businesses that have robustly traded throughout the pandemic.
‘Amid all this uncertainty our corporate finance business managed to top the rankings for advisory deals by volume in four UK regions including the North West. Our continued focus is the mid-market, delivering deal flow into and providing services to the private equity community within the region. We have found that a multi-disciplined approach, maximising the resource and expertise of our wider firm, coupled with our brand, provides comfort to clients in a very difficult climate.
‘As we enter national lockdown once more, we are likely to see refinancings increase in the final quarter and both corporate divestments and the sale of owner/founder businesses fuelling M&A activity into the first quarter of 2021. Quarter four will also bring further concerns for our middle market clients who will need to adapt to a new trading environment.’