When looking at the high performing areas when it comes to private equity (PE) deals in the United Kingdom, it is no surprise that London leads the way. Most people would expect other areas in the south of the country to follow, and this was the case in terms of total deal value.
However, in terms of the number of PE deals closed across 2013, the North West of England was surprisingly second behind the capital with 34 to London’s 38. Although some commentators will point to the low deal value (£1.63billion) in comparison to other areas – the South East region saw 29 deals closed but a combined value of £3.1billion – the fact that there is such a high volume of activity in the area is promising considering economic analysts frequently express concern that the whole country is so reliant on London.
The biggest deal to be closed in the North West involved the sale of B&M Bargains – a discount retailer selling a variety of products – to New York buyout giant Clayton Dubilier & Rice for £900million. This was supported by a large number of smaller deals including a £200million buyout of Admiral Taverns by Cerberus Capital Management.
Steve O’Hare, of Equistone Partners Europe, told the Manchester Evening News, who originally reported the story, “Yet again, the north west continues to be one of the top performing regions in the UK and is only marginally behind London for private equity activity. The region continues to be a fertile place for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.
“With growing confidence in the economy, we expect to see a similarly strong performance in 2014 as private equity continues to support growth in businesses both within the UK and internationally.” Tim Morris, who is a Mergers & Acquisitions partner at Ernst & Young, added, “Standout deals completed at the beginning of this year, including B&M Bargains, Admiral Taverns and GHD, have boosted confidence and driven activity in the region – making the north west one of the UK’s most active for private equity buyouts in 2013.
“We expect to see overall deal activity levels increase in 2014. In particular, we anticipate more primary buyouts from large corporates, as confidence in realising good value from the disposal of “non-core” subsidiaries has returned.”
Given the focus given to London and the on-going emergence of Scottish capital Edinburgh as a tech PE hub – not to mention the strong performance across the Irish Sea in Ireland in these areas – it is great to see other regions of the UK taking advantage of the PE opportunities on offer.