UK tops list of investment locations despite Brexit woes

The UK beats the US, Germany, China and France to take first place in a survey ranking the attractiveness of countries for mergers and acquisitions this year

16Apr

Despite the geopolitical uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the UK has taken first place in a list compiled by accountancy firm EY ranking how attractive countries are for business investors over the coming year.

"While the UK's position may surprise some, given current uncertainty, mergers and acquisitions activity during the period since the 2016 EU referendum has remained strong," commented EY.

The biannual survey, which included 2,900 senior executives from across 49 countries, saw the UK overtake the US as the country foreign investors are most likely to target. The US had previously held the top spot since 2014. The US was followed by Germany, China and France, holding the third, fourth and fifth places, respectively.

It is the first time in the survey's 10-year history that the UK has claimed the number one place.

While the value of mergers and acquisitions, and the revenues investment banks gain from them, was down in 1Q19, demand still remains high, said EY.

The UK voted to leave the EU three years ago, however, after much turmoil, the terms of Brexit remain unclear and last week UK Prime Minister Theresa May secured a Brexit delay until October 31. The value of the pound has fallen since the vote was passed, however EY claimed that this was not a major driver of foreign investment.

Steve Krouskos, global vice chair for transaction advisory services at EY, remarked: "By and large, deals are driven by strategic rationale not currency movements.

"What hasn't changed is that the UK has great companies, great talent, great tech and great IP. These assets attract capital," he added. "Also, remember the UK isn't the only country dealing with significant geopolitical challenges."

EY discovered that global interest in mergers and acquisitions is enjoying a 10-year high, with 59% of businesses planning a deal over the next year.

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