North West buyout industry bounces back following deal drop-off in 2023


Private equity dealmaking in the North West is showing signs of recovery after a subdued 2023, according to the latest provisional half-year data from CMBOR, the Centre for Private Equity and MBO Research based at Nottingham University Business School and supported by Equistone Partners Europe.

There were 13 buyouts in the North West in H1 2024 with an aggregate value of £785m, compared to nine buyouts in H1 2023 and only six buyouts in H2 2023. With this increase in volume, the value of deals in the North West also grew 90% from £413m in H1 2023.

The data is reflective of an increased interest in dealmaking in the North, with the North West having the second highest deal volume of H1 2024, and the highest outside London. Two North West-based deals were also included in the UK’s top 25 - Morson Group’s MBO and Perspective Financial Group.

The North of England as a whole was once again the UK’s most active area outside London, with 28 transactions completing across the North East, North West and Yorkshire and Humber in H1 2024. However, deal value still lagged behind that of London, totalling £1bn across the North compared with £5.8bn in London. However, deal value in the North of England was higher than the South East for another year, with deal value in this region totalling £528m.

Andi Tomkinson, Partner at Equistone Partners Europe, said:

“It’s really encouraging to see buyout activity picking up in the first half of this year, which is indicative of a nationwide increase in activity.

“We are expecting this increase in activity to continue into the rest of 2024, with a number of strong management teams looking for investment across the North West. There are some highly attractive companies coming to market throughout the rest of 2024.”

UK, TMT and healthcare stand out

The UK has remained Europe’s largest and most active market, with 95 buyouts valued at €16.1bn (£13.8bn). Germany ranked second with 48 buyouts valued at €6.3bn; France came third in terms of volume, with 45, but at a cumulative value of €1.7bn – with the snap election likely to further impact activity in the near-term.

"The UK is routinely the biggest and most active European private equity market, even when facing political upheaval, and has consolidated its position with this latest strong set of numbers,"

said Professor Kevin Amess, Director of CMBOR at Nottingham University Business School.

“In France, by contrast, political uncertainty often delays M&A activity, so its own snap general election may act as a further drag on French buyout values in what has already been a quiet year.”

From a sector perspective, TMT and Healthcare reversed the major corrections they suffered in 2023 following a pandemic-era boom. TMT was the second most active sector by volume (70) and largest by value (€21.6bn – the sector’s highest half-yearly share in almost a decade). The healthcare sector performed strongly on both the buyout and exit side, with 20 buyouts valued at €8.0bn (almost equalling the 2023 full-year total of €8.9bn already) and 14 realisations valued at €15.8bn, surpassing the full-year 2023 total of €11.0bn.

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