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Suffolk bucks regional trend with busy deal market

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Deal activity remains buoyant in Suffolk, boosted by strong interest from overseas buyers, despite a fall in the number of deals completed in the region in the first quarter according to Grant Thornton. M&A activity across the East of England fell by just under 31% in the first quarter from the 166 deals recorded in the period last year and total deal value dropped by 80 per cent to £2.3bn, according to Experian MarketIQ.

But Grant Thornton says strong availability of funding and an increased appetite from international buyers in quality local businesses has buoyed up deal activity. In recent months the firm has advised Hadleigh-based packaging group H Erben Limited, on its sale to Berlin Packaging of the US and Bury-based Treatt on the £11m sale of its Earthoil Plantations business. Tim Hansell, head of advisory at Grant Thornton’s Ipswich office, said: “We are seeing a very active marketplace in Suffolk despite industry data indicating otherwise, and our team is having one of its best year’s yet, second only to the record breaking 12 months we achieved last year.

“Ongoing uncertainty around Brexit continues to present challenges but it is also driving greater interest from overseas buyers, particularly from the US, who are attracted by the favourable exchange rate which is making it cheap to buy UK assets. Also, the continuing strong cultural fit between the UK and the US."

“Local companies are also looking to de-risk and sell businesses or assets while the tax environment remains favourable, further fuelling market activity, while strong availability of funding support is encouraging ambitious, first generation businesses to go for growth.”

Looking ahead to the rest of 2018, Tim Hansell says larger ‘mega-deals’ are likely to decline in numbers due to the UK’s looming departure from the EU and lack of clarity over the future trading relationship. However, the mid-market, which is more relevant to East Anglia, should remain resilient.

Tim Hansell concludes: “From optimising operations to investigating new markets, Brexit needn’t be the ogre it is often portrayed to be. What will happen post March 2019 remains unclear but those businesses with a robust growth strategy and strong management team to deliver it can certainly capitalise on the opportunities the current market is presenting. We see lots of reasons to be positive over the next 12 months.”

Last Updated ( Thursday, 28 June 2018 09:54 )