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2 minute read • published in partnership with BDO

M&A activity in manufacturing sector remains resilient, despite headwinds

UK manufacturing mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity has been resilient despite considerable headwinds, according to research published by accountancy and business advisory firm BDO.

UK manufacturers are continuing to progress M&A strategies, despite the volatile macro-economic landscape. In 2022, there were 793 transactions involving a UK manufacturer, compared with a similar number of 779 in 2021, up from 595 in 2020.

The impressive levels of deal activity is notable given the market headwinds, reflecting both resilience and optimism in the UK manufacturing sector. Private equity maintained strong interest in the market, with buy-outs accounting for 1 in 5 deals.

The latest research by BDO shows UK manufacturing M&A activity has been resilient despite some headwinds / Picture: Getty/iStock

Proportions of deals across subsectors remained largely unchanged from 2021, with engineering services accounting for the largest portion. There was a substantial increase in manufactured materials, which saw its share of deal activity increase from 9% to 13%. The share of deals in food & drink declined from 13% in 2021 to 10% in 2022, while building products and life sciences remained among the top five sectors with the highest deals activity.

In a story of contrasts, inward investment to the UK declined by 14%, with 184 UK businesses sold to overseas acquirers in 2022, while outward investment from the UK increased by 14% with 115 overseas businesses acquired. Investment from North America declined by 34%, but still accounted for 29% of all overseas buyers.

Key insights of the BDO analysis include

793 manufacturing deals in 2022, up from 779 in 2021
Buy-outs account for 19% of deals in 2022
Top 5 sectors: engineering services, manufactured materials, building products, food & drink and life sciences
Outward investment from the UK increased by 14% in 2022
Strong market themes continue to underpin M&A strategies

Roger Buckley, UK industrials M&A partner at BDO, said: “The UK manufacturing M&A market has been surprisingly resilient despite considerable headwinds. Investors, corporates and entrepreneurs are still active, making the most of strategic M&A opportunities to safeguard the future and position for growth. Major themes facing the market include cost pressures, supply chain resilience, the drive to net zero, innovation, and sustainability, alongside a wide range of political and economic macro factors.

“There is high scrutiny by investors across the board, but we see plenty of opportunities in the M&A mid-market, attracting high levels of interest, investment and value, particularly where there is a technology or sustainability play adding value. M&A strategies aligned with the major market themes of the moment can be a key driver to help businesses position for the future, access funding, attain greater resilience and competitive advantage.”

BDO’s full Manufacturing Deals Review is available to read here.

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