By Daniel Hunter

Experian, the global information services company, today revealed that small transactions (under £10m) dominated the UK ECM (equity capital markets) and M&A market in Q1 2013, increasing by 6.3 per cent (from 319 in Q1 2012 to 357 deals in Q1 2013).

The increase can largely be attributed to a substantial upturn in the volume of smaller scale equity fundraising from UK public companies, which increased transactions from 116 worth £225 million in Q1 2012 to 225 worth £334million in Q1 2013.

The total number of UK M&A and ECM transactions recorded in Q1 2013, however, fell by 14.2 per cent: from 1,239 transactions in Q1 2012 to 1,063 in Q1 2013.

Overall value figures were also down when compared to Q1 of last year, with £40.5billion worth of transactions announced in Q1 2013, down by almost 50 per cent when compared with £80.6billion in Q1 2012. This is due to fewer very large deals in the first quarter.

Only five very large deals (worth more than £1billion) were announced during Q1 2013, compared with nine in Q1 2012. The largest of these deals saw US cable television group Liberty Global agree to purchase Virgin Media in a deal worth approximately £15 billion.

In addition, the level of mid market (£10million to £100million) and large (£100million plus) deals dropped during the first quarter, by 37.8 per cent and 20.8 per cent, respectively.

Sectors

The UK’s financial sector was most active in terms of M&A activity in Q1 2013, accounting for just under 30 per cent of deals by target industry. The largest transaction in this segment was the sale of HSBC Panama to Colombia’s Bancolombia SA for £1.4billion. Professional and Business Activities (20 per cent of deals) and Information Technology (10.9 per cent) were the next most active sectors as the SME market continued to drive deal activity in the UK.

The International picture

There was a British element in more than half (51.3 percent) of all European transactions in Q1 2013, up from 44.7 per cent in Q1 2012, and in terms of value the UK contributed almost 40 per cent of the European total. This is largely due to the fall in the number of European led transactions as UK based transactions remained relatively steady.

Despite the overall fall in M&A volumes involving UK firms, the UK market has performed relatively well internationally during the first quarter of 2013 in comparison with its neighbours, and continues to be the principal driver of deal volume in Europe.

Elsewhere, deals in the Asia-Pacific region were down by 32.6 per cent in volume and by 37.5 per cent in value. In the USA activity dropped by just under 27.7 per cent, although the total of transactions increased by 35.4 per cent.

“2012 was a busy year with high value, top level corporate transactions characterising dealmaking in the UK," Wendy Driver, Business Development Manager at Experian UK&I, said.

“The first quarter of 2013 has seen smaller transactions dominate as SMEs continue to strive for growth with brisk activity in the professional services and IT sectors. Despite the low deal volumes in the UK market so far this year, the UK has played a key role in more than half of all European deal activity in Q1, which is encouraging as it indicates the appetite for deal making remains strong.”

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