Uk distressed m&a market trends

Current Trends in the UK Distressed M&A Market

Could the UK be the next big place for distressed M&A deals?

In 2024, the UK’s distressed M&A market is showing a mix of challenges and chances. Although overall M&A deal numbers dropped by 18% in 2022, distressed asset deals grew by 20%. This shows there are more chances to buy assets at a low price, thanks to economic ups and downs.

Technology plays a big role, with AI, IoT, and cybersecurity sectors catching the eye for deals. AI and machine learning are making research easier, and blockchain makes deals safer and more open.

Now, looking after the planet and acting fair are big parts of picking where to invest. Private equity firms are choosing projects that meet certain environmental and social goals. This includes putting money into green bonds and projects that help the earth.

There are still hurdles, like legal issues and protecting your image. But, the UK is looking more stable after Brexit, with good trade laws in place. Private equity firms are sharpening their focus and using more money for these special projects. With tools like Virtual Deal Rooms, doing deals from far away is easier, making things move smoother.

In short, the UK’s distressed M&A market is ready for big changes in the coming year. It’s a moment when being ready and informed can turn challenges into wins. So, 2024 looks to be a year full of smart chances and progress.

Introduction to UK Distressed M&A Market

The UK’s distressed M&A market has changed a lot. This happened because of tough economic times and financial crises. In such times, companies in financial trouble are often bought for less. Since the start of the pandemic, more companies are facing financial issues, creating more chances for buyers. In 2022, there was a 20% boost in people buying these companies.

Buying companies in distress happens quickly and with few guarantees. Those who can decide fast and have their money ready are seen as good buyers. When buying troubled companies, it’s better to buy the assets only. This way, the new owner avoids taking on the old debts. Sometimes, buyers wait until a company is going out of business before they buy it. This lowers their risks even more.

Checking out a troubled company is hard because the information is not always clear. The deal on price and what’s being sold can often lead to arguments. Getting promises and protection from the old owners is tricky. But, there is a type of insurance that can help protect the new owners from some risks.

Buying a company low in a distress sale can sometimes lead to legal problems later. Areas like retail and hotels have been hit hard by recent events. They are risky for buyers because of delivery issues, lack of workers, growing loan costs, and money not being worth as much. Before diving in, buyers need to be really careful, and it helps to get advice from experts.

For company bosses when the business is in serious trouble, their job changes. Instead of just caring about the owners, they have to think more about the people they owe money to. Doing shady business or taking on debt the firm can’t pay back is a big no. Keeping good records and knowing the different ways a company can deal with its debts helps protect their own money.

To get the best out of a quick sale, sellers need to be fast and clear about their deal. Buyers must look at the company they’re buying very closely. They should know the money is there to buy and run the firm, without any last-minute changes. Making sure the payment is certain and looking at smart ways to do the deal are key for a good deal for both sides.

Impact of Economic Conditions on Distressed M&A

The global economy has changed how distressed M&A deals happen. Since 2020’s pandemic began, the UK has seen a rise in these opportunities. This is due to supply chain troubles, lack of workers, and more.

Shops, hotels, and energy firms are at risk. But, the number of distressed deals is not high. Company directors need to watch their duties during hard times. They must think about their company’s state, who’s involved, and how fast they need to act. All these affect how a deal is made.

Sellers must find ways to get better deals. They need to act fast if they lack money. Buyers should be ready for quick checks on the company they want to buy. They should also have their finances in order. This helps make deals go through quickly.

Recently, borrowing money has become very expensive. This makes doing deals harder. But, it’s also changing how different industries do business. Some are buying to protect their supply chains. Others see this as a chance to buy companies cheap.

UK Distressed M&A Market Trends

The UK’s distressed M&A market is quickly changing as we enter 2024. New tech like AI and Blockchain are starting to change the way deals are done. They make due diligence better and transactions more secure and smooth. These tech advances are key in creating a future for distressed M&A that’s clearer and faster for everyone involved.

Concerns about keeping things green are pushing the market forward too. Green deals, aimed at helping the planet, are getting more popular. UK businesses are finding new money for these green projects through something called green bonds. This helps with the environment and also meets a rising demand from investors for eco-friendly and ethical ways to invest.

Private equity is changing its focus to know more about certain industries and making specific types of investments. By really understanding a business area, these investors can add a lot of value to deals. This method is gaining ground. It matches the increasing importance of taking care of the planet and society when making investment choices and setting up deals.

Although the overall worth of deals worldwide dropped by half in 2023 compared to record highs in 2021, the medium-sized market is standing strong. These deals are becoming more popular. They’re often aimed at changing and growing the businesses involved. Deals that are very big, on the other hand, have become much less common. Their number fell by 60% from 2021’s high point to under 60 in 2023.

The energy industry saw the biggest deals of 2023, like Exxon’s move to buy Pioneer for over $59 billion. Companies in sectors such as aerospace, mining, power, pharma, and tech also saw more deals between 2022 and 2023. This shows there are many different chances in the distressed M&A market.

Key Industry Sectors in Distressed M&A Deals

Distressed M&A trends vary across key sectors, especially now. Technology, like AI and cybersecurity, stands out because of digital growth. Healthcare, despite the sector’s slow pace, has shown more deal-making in 2023. This goes against the usual trend of decline in UK M&A.

In 2022, financial services were strong by getting more tech to boost their work. Meanwhile, construction, retail, and hospitality are struggling more. They are facing big challenges with high borrowing costs. If their financial health isn’t strong, they face more difficulties.

The tough situation in construction, retail, and hospitality might continue. Large companies in these areas are facing more financial troubles, filing for Chapter 11. This might lead to deals in real estate, affected by high interest rates.

Defensive investors are strengthening their businesses. Financial ones are looking for good deals in the distress M&A market. This shows how economic conditions can change this market’s course.

Distressed Opportunities in the UK Market

The UK market has seen a rise in distressed M&A chances due to economic challenges. These have grown since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Supply chain issues, lack of workers, and other problems make it hard for businesses. This makes openings for buyers looking to invest in struggling companies.

Consumer businesses in retail and hospitality are hit the hardest. The energy sector is also unstable. With these sectors struggling, there are more chances for investment.

Directors in nearly insolvent companies have a tough job. They must be careful not to break laws when dealing with debts. This is crucial during distressed M&A deals to avoid legal trouble.

For those selling, quick deals and certain payments are key. This is to meet financial needs and avoid debts. Sellers aim to get the best price while choosing the right buyer. They also need to be well prepared to handle any issues that may arise.

Buyers, on the other hand, need to be quick yet thorough in checking the business. They focus on its financial and legal health. Right now, getting funds for a purchase is harder than usual. So, buyers should be ready for tough negotiations on payment terms.

Given the current marketplace, sellers might choose to sell parts of their business or assets. This is safer for them and still brings good value. As lots of debts need to be paid off, more distressed asset sales are on the way. This creates a big chance for smart investors to make profitable moves.

Emerging Investment Trends in Distressed M&A

By 2024, we’ll see big changes in distressed M&A investment. Specialised private equity firms are focusing more on areas they know best. Forward EBITDA multiples for main indices jumped by 15-20% in 2023. This shows the sector is valued highly.

The trend towards ESG investments is growing. Now, companies aim to put their money in areas that are good for the planet. They use green bonds and sustainable finance to make this happen.

Investment trends

Financial investors are becoming key players in buying up distressed companies. This is happening as government help steps back. Sectors like retail, manufacturing, and healthcare are hotspots for deals now.

The energy sector is seeing big moves with Exxon and Chevron making massive deals. These actions show confidence in the future of these industries.

In the UK, the market is shifting due to new laws like the National Security and Investment Act 2021. These changes are making financial investors more active in the distressed M&A arena.

Legal and Regulatory Considerations in Distressed M&A

Distressed M&A deals face many legal rules and regulatory checks. In the UK, laws like the National Security and Investment Act are key. They set out what must be done and checked in these deals. This shows how careful all parties must be in these transactions.

Under the National Security and Investment Act, checks are needed to protect national safety. Using escrow accounts and insurance can help manage risks. This is crucial when deals are under pressure due to economic issues.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) adds another layer of rules. They watch to make sure deals don’t harm competition. Ensuring firms follow laws like the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act is also vital. This helps make sure details in deals are correct and trustworthy.

Quick action is often needed in buying troubled assets. Buyers may need to fix and sell parts of the business. They face challenges like pension debts and fixing any bad reputation. Sometimes, authorities may demand certain actions or sales. This can change how the deals go.

Overall, doing deals in troubled times means being very careful with the law. By handling risks right and following legal rules, deals can meet success. This is key in a world full of unknowns.

Challenges and Risks in Distressed M&A Transactions

Buying companies in trouble can be a big challenge. It’s hard because there are many risks involved. With the economy not doing well, things like high energy prices and inflation can cause big problems. These issues might lead to more companies being in trouble, making it a tricky time for some businesses. Some buyers, like big companies, might not buy as much, while others with money might be looking for opportunities but might face some restrictions.

Certain industries are feeling the impact more, like retail, manufacturing, and others. This makes deals even more complex. Firms lending money might find themselves in a tough spot, as everyone will want the best loans. This could lead to more loans being redone or needing help because companies are struggling.

One big problem in buying companies with issues is the risk buyers take on. They usually can’t check the company they’re buying very well. This and the fact that sellers often don’t promise the business is worth what they say, can cause issues. Also, if a sale looks fishy, it could be challenged, especially if it undervalues the company or moves assets fraudulently. Sellers, though, want a secure deal. They hate the idea that the deal might fall through because of some changes, delays in payment, or needing other people to agree.

For companies in trouble, dealing with pensions can be a headache. They have to focus on what’s right for their investors or people they owe. Not doing so can get the leaders in big legal trouble, as they may be accused of various wrongdoings if things go really bad.

The market for buying trouble companies is always changing. Now, interest rates are high, making loans costly. The real estate sector is also facing big loan payments soon. Despite these challenges, investors are still interested in these deals. What they look for, though, is a good chance of making a profit.

Recovery Phases and Future Prospects

In 2024, M&A markets are on the up. We expect activity levels to rise slowly but surely. This is mainly thanks to better financial markets. These show strong gains, like the S&P 500 up by 12% and the NASDAQ by 15%. Feeding into this bright picture is the drop in interest rates, with a 100-basis point fall in US Treasury notes.

Recovery phases

The energy, tech, and pharma fields lead the way. Energy is bustling with nearly three times more megadeals in 2023. The tech sector is also active after Cisco’s US$28bn move on Splunk. And in healthcare, drugs for diabetes and weight loss are catching investors’ eyes.

Midsized deals are holding up well, riding on the back of easier finance. But, the number of big deals has dropped 60% from its peak. So, there’s still care among major investors. Friendlier scenes are seen in healthcare and banking, where recovery will be slow. Here, making smart and quick moves will be key.

Overall, the market outlook is lively yet careful. It’s shaped by a mix of bright spots and cautious moves.


Looking at the UK’s distressed M&A scene shows a mix of challenges and possibilities for 2024. Despite a smaller market in 2022, there will likely be more business deals. This will affect areas like retail, manufacturing, and tech, among others. While some buyers might step back, financial investors are expected to play a bigger part.

Buying businesses in trouble brings more risks. Companies must be very careful in these deals. They need to think about other people, like the ones they owe money to, if they are not doing well. Negotiating these deals is different too, making it quite a process.

The UK has seen the highest loan costs in two decades. This is both good and bad news. Strong companies can now borrow money easily. But weaker ones might struggle. Yet, it’s a good time for investors looking for lower risk and good chances to earn. Real estate and property businesses are particularly interesting for these types of deals. As the M&A scene changes, being ready to adapt is key to success.

Written by
Scott Dylan
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Scott Dylan

Scott Dylan

Scott Dylan

Scott Dylan is the Co-founder of Inc & Co, a seasoned entrepreneur, investor, and business strategist renowned for his adeptness in turning around struggling companies and driving sustainable growth.

As the Co-Founder of Inc & Co, Scott has been instrumental in the acquisition and revitalization of various businesses across multiple industries, from digital marketing to logistics and retail. With a robust background that includes a mix of creative pursuits and legal studies, Scott brings a unique blend of creativity and strategic rigor to his ventures. Beyond his professional endeavors, he is deeply committed to philanthropy, with a special focus on mental health initiatives and community welfare.

Scott's insights and experiences inform his writings, which aim to inspire and guide other entrepreneurs and business leaders. His blog serves as a platform for sharing his expert strategies, lessons learned, and the latest trends affecting the business world.


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