By Daniel Hunter

The number of high value buy-out deals doubled in Wales in 2014, according to law firm Hugh James Solicitors and PwC.

There were six buy-outs in Wales that valued more than £3 million, compared to just three in 2013.

It is the first time there have been so many high value buy-outs in Wales since 2007. There were no buy-outs in Wales in 2009 and 2010, with just one in 2011.

Hugh James Solicitors said increased availability of funding was key to the rise in the number of buy-outs.

Gerallt Jones, partner at Hugh James, said: “Activity in the Welsh buy-out market has been largely stalled since the 2008 downturn.

“However, it now seems that we may have reached a tipping point. As the economy has recovered, both on a local and national level, there is a much greater sense of optimism.”

Marc Davies at PwC, said: “Our experience, which is borne out by our analysis, is that earnings have improved and capital has started to return to the market with bank funding now easier to find.

“That means there is a willingness amongst directors and private equity investors to put their money up to pay for quality assets at sensible multiples."

Mr Jones added: “In Wales a particularly large proportion of high quality companies that have consolidated and grown during the last few years still remain in the hands of their original owners.

“Many of them could now be looking to realise a profit from their businesses after years of hard work to build and protect value.

“Across technology, industrials, financial services, media, life sciences and business services, Wales has a wealth of strong companies that are ripe for investment.

“There are many backable management teams hungry for the chance take their businesses to the next level, and would be ideal candidates for the buy-out journey.”

PwC's Mr Davies added: “Wales has a unique market landscape and offers a different proposition to the rest of the UK, with more grants available to companies and Welsh Government investment in infrastructure projects such as the Cardiff Metro which could deliver significant advantages to business.

“Identifying exciting opportunities here that are under the radar of other investors could prove to be very rewarding.”