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Get them while they’re hot: study finds more and more US buyers descending on thriving UK tech sector

Research reveals huge scale of increase in UK tech company acquisitions and transactions by US businesses over the last decade 

Key findings:

  • 386% growth in UK tech acquisitions in 2017 v 2009
  • 86% increase in transactions since 2009 to 2017 of UK companies by the US
  • 247 transactions were reported in 2017, 80 of which were of UK tech companies

Research from Buzzacott reveals a UK technology market which has attracted the eye of US businesses and seen a huge increase in transactions, with acquisitions of UK technology companies up 386% in 2017 than there were in 2009).

Of the 247 UK companies to have exited into the US in 2017, almost a third (32.3%) of those were technology companies, followed by manufacturing, which has also seen an increasing interest from the US over the same period.

While technology has been one of the principle drivers of the UK M&A market in the mid-market, the results highlight there has also been a wider trend of increasing activity from US acquirers. Overall, the UK has seen the acquisition of companies below £1billion increase by 86% over the last decade (2009 to 2017), with sectors such as Business Services and Manufacturing having increased in the number of sales to US acquirers.

Commenting on the findings, Andy Hodgetts, Senior Corporate Finance Manager at Buzzacott said: “The UK’s technology landscape is changing dramatically and is far more active than it was just under a decade ago. Silicon Valley is no longer the sole proprietor for developing new innovations, the UK is a hotbed for talent, and in the US’ acquisitions of UK companies, they are gaining access to that talent pool.

Hodgetts continued: “There has been a lot of uncertainty around Brexit and what it means for the UK, which has left many businesses unsure as to when might be a good time for them to sell. What we are seeing however is that there are a number of opportunities and buyers out there, especially in the US. For UK companies that are planning on exiting but have waited due to the uncertainty the UK faces, it is important to not just think about companies within the UK that might want to acquire the business but explore internationally too as there are plenty of buyers available, whatever the sector.”

Buzzacott compiled data using the S&P Global Market Intelligence’s Capital IQ platform.