Key Trends in the UK M&A market right now

June 4, 2024

Key Trends in the UK M&A market right now

M&A in the UK has experienced dynamic changes in recent years, influenced by economic shifts, technological advancements, regulatory updates, and global events. Understanding these key trends has never been more essential for business owners and investors looking to acquire or divest in the UK right now. We wanted to outline some of the primary trends shaping the M&A landscape in the UK which we feel will remain very relevant going forward.

Post-Brexit Adjustments

Since the UK’s departure from the European Union, M&A trends in the market have adapted:

  • Restructuring and Realignment: Companies are restructuring to navigate new trade barriers and regulatory changes.
  • Increased Domestic Focus: There has been a noticeable shift towards domestic M&A as firms seek to consolidate and strengthen their positions within the UK market.

Technological Advancements and Digital Transformation

The tech sector continues to be a hotbed for M&A activity. Key trends include:

  • Digital Transformation: Companies across various sectors are acquiring tech firms to accelerate their digital transformation efforts.
  • Fintech Growth: The UK’s fintech sector remains robust, attracting significant investment and M&A interest.
  • AI and Data Analytics: Firms are acquiring capabilities in artificial intelligence and data analytics to enhance their operational efficiencies and product offerings.

Private Equity Influence

Private equity (PE) firms are continuing to play a prominent role in the UK M&A market. Key trends include:

  • Buy-and-Build Strategies: PE firms are employing buy-and-build strategies in high fragmented markets and those with strong regulatory and legislative backdrops, acquiring smaller companies to consolidate and create market leaders.
  • Tech and Healthcare Focus: PE are heavily focused on technology and healthcare sectors, driven by high growth potential.
  • Exit Strategies: There is a trend of PE-backed companies exiting through sales to strategic buyers or other PE firms, rather than IPOs.

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Considerations

ESG factors are becoming crucial in M&A decisions. Key trends include:

  • Sustainable Investments: There is a growing emphasis on acquiring companies with strong ESG credentials.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Firms are prioritising M&A deals that enhance their compliance with increasing ESG regulations.
  • Reputation Management: Companies are using M&A to improve their ESG profiles and manage reputational risks.

Sector-Specific Trends

Different sectors exhibit unique M&A trends. Some notable examples include:

  • Healthcare: With economic headwinds subsiding from where they were in 2023, competition for innovative technologies will continue to drive M&A activity in 2024. Large companies and market consolidators are expected to heavily supplement their business strategies with M&A throughout 2024.
  • Technology: Activity in the UK technology M&A market has been low over the past two years however the continued requirement for many companies to transform, combined with the significant ongoing interest from Private Equity means activity in the sector is expected to accelerate.
  • Retail: The UK retail industry is expected to see a large increase in M&A activity in 2024. Key trends include luxury retail consolidation, large-scale grocery store mergers, and retailers opting for partnerships to expand reach.

Cross-Border M&A

Cross-border M&A remains a significant component of the UK market. Key trends include:

  • Increased Interest from North America and Asia: Companies from these regions are investing in UK firms to gain access to advanced technologies and established markets.
  • Regulatory Scrutiny: Cross-border deals are facing greater scrutiny from regulators, particularly concerning national security and competition issues.

Resilience and Adaptability

The UK M&A market has shown remarkable resilience and adaptability in the face of challenges. Key trends include:

  • Deal Structures: Innovative deal structures, such as earn-outs and contingent payments, are becoming more common to bridge valuation gaps.
  • Due Diligence: There is a heightened focus on thorough due diligence, particularly around financial health, cyber security, and ESG factors.
  • Integration Planning: Effective integration planning is critical to realising synergies and achieving the desired outcomes from M&A transactions.


The M&A landscape in the UK continues to evolve rapidly, shaped by a myriad of factors ranging from geopolitical shifts to technological advancements. Business owners and investors must stay attuned to these trends to navigate the complexities of M&A effectively. The continued emphasis on innovation, resilience, and strategic alignment will likely define the success of M&A activities in 2024.

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