Distressed m&a exit options uk

Exploring Exit Options in Distressed M&A in the UK

Is the UK’s challenging market leading companies to consider distressed M&A deals? Or are there hidden benefits in these high-risk dealings?

In the UK, despite challenges from the pandemic, the distressed M&A market is buzzing. There are record M&A levels, with more expected due to less government support. Sectors such as retail and manufacturing are quite active, while finance and technology are holding strong.

Strategic buyers aren’t as involved, choosing to restructure or sell off extra businesses. This opens the door for financial investors with cash to take over. Key laws, like the Enterprise Act 2002 and the 2021 National Security Act, help keep the game fair, protecting against risky deals.

For company leaders, it’s all about staying true to their duties, especially in tough times like insolvency. They could be in trouble for bad business behaviour. Knowing the ins and outs of the law, like the Insolvency Act 1986 and the Corporate Governance Act 2020, is vital for dealing with M&A issues right.

This mix of factors creates a challenging yet rich space in distressed M&A. Making smart choices in leaving the market is key to success. With big investors and more distressed M&A deals on the horizon, there’s both danger and great potential for those who are ready.

Understanding Distressed M&A in the UK

Exit options for Distressed M&A in the UK are more important now due to economic uncertainty. This has led to more sales of struggling businesses. Sellers want quick solutions to stop their business’s value from dropping. They focus on keeping key staff and important contracts. In these cases, they often choose cash deals for fast sales.

Investigating the details of a sale is very important, even in such quick sales. Buyers have to check that they get the real ownership of the assets. They make sure the sales’ assets are safe. They also look into data protection and staff matters. The recovery of investments needs careful checks on commitments and other financial worries. Since 2021, the government checks some buyouts closely, making due diligence even more testing.

Even though there was a pandemic, the UK saw a lot of M&A deals lately. This includes more sales of struggling businesses. Some buyers want to change how things work or sell off parts that aren’t central. Others, with lots of money to spend, are buying. There are many chances for these kinds of sales in retail, manufacturing, and more.

There are specific laws for distressed M&A sales in the UK, such as the Insolvency Act from 1986. Sellers don’t offer many promises, so it’s crucial to have good risk plans. Special buying structures, like holdbacks and insurance, are key to doing these deals safely.

The increase in these sales shows big problems in the economy and in different industries. Dealing with these challenges needs smart ways to recover investments and make good decisions about selling in the UK.

Key Risks in Distressed M&A Transactions

Getting into distressed M&A deals in the UK market needs careful risk checking. The buyer takes on a big chunk of risk. This is because of limited checks and buying assets with little or no guarantees. If deals look underpriced or fishy, liquidators will check them closely. This makes planning to leave the market tricky.

Ending a distressed M&A deal means dealing with plenty of legal twists. Those selling must make sure deals are fair to avoid getting into trouble. And if you don’t get the right permissions or the deal falls through, it can mess everything up. This makes getting out of deals very complex.

Dodging pension issues is a big deal for troubled companies. Following the Competition and Markets Authority’s rules after joining up is key. This helps reduce possible problems. Staying afloat in this tough economic time, with high inflation and energy costs, isn’t easy for businesses either.

Because distressed M&A is so risky, both buyers and sellers should get top-notch advice. This helps wade through legal stuff, cut down risks, and meet rules. This can make or break the success of a deal.

Main Drivers of Distress in the UK Market

The UK’s distressed M&A market has seen a lot of ups and downs. This was mainly because of high interest rates, inflation, and worries about recession over the past year. Things like a lack of workers, problems with getting supplies, and the value of currencies have hit industries like manufacturing and retail hard.

Issues in the market have been made worse by the expensive cost of borrowing money. Companies that were already struggling before this found it even harder. Getting loans has become tough, especially with interest rates going up. Real estate, after the pandemic, also faces new challenges, which makes things even more difficult for that sector.

Industries that use a lot of energy, as well as shops and places to eat, are struggling to keep their profits up. This is because it costs more to run their businesses now. Shops and eateries seem to be in more trouble than others. But, this means it’s a good time for certain investors to buy. The health, retail, and real estate sectors are seeing changes because of this.

Even when the economy is down, some investors in the UK are ready to spend but only if the deal is very good. Places like the retail or health sectors may face more problems if they need to renew their loans. This means there could be more chances for investors looking for bargains. But, these times are risky. It’s important for buyers to watch out for problems and opportunities carefully.

Financial turmoil

Exploring Distressed M&A Exit Options UK

In today’s tough times, looking at ways to exit in the UK’s distressed M&A scene needs quick and exact planning. Insolvencies among UK companies are at a high not seen since 2009. This is mainly due to the end of the UK Government’s COVID-19 support, inflation, and increasing interest rates. Because of this, selling distressed assets quickly through auctions has become more common. It’s faster than long negotiations, which shows how urgent this issue is.

There was a 14% jump in the use of Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs) for rescues from October 2023 compared to the year prior. This shows their increasing importance when an urgent exit is needed. In these situations, thorough due diligence isn’t always possible. Reviews are often limited to only essential financial aspects and legal checks. Discussions also focus on main employees and ESG matters.

Picking the right time for an acquisition, especially buying assets, is vital. Such deals might need approvals from others, which could slow things down. Today, with inflation similar to that of the 1970s and rising interest rates, businesses are under a lot of pressure. This makes it harder to plan an exit properly. Directors must be careful when deciding between selling in a distressed sale or looking for other ways to recover.

During sales of distressed assets, the warranty could be limited. This is where holdbacks or getting insurance can help reduce risks. The sales process is complex and highly pressurised because of the urgent situation. This complexity can mean that buyers have fewer rights against sellers. Sellers often avoid giving the assurances and promises about the sale that are normal in regular deals.

Legal Considerations in Distressed Exits

In the UK, the distressed M&A legal scene is complex with many rules to follow. When a company is near insolvency, it must focus on its debts more than on its shareholders. This means following rules about insolvency very closely. In tough sectors like construction, retail, and hospitality, times are particularly hard due to high interest rates.

Directors have key roles according to the Companies Act 2006. They must act to protect those the company owes money to. Breaking these rules can lead to big problems. The Pensions Regulator also watches how companies handle pension schemes very closely. In quick deals where a company is in trouble, the paperwork is often simpler, with fewer promises made.

In cases like Chapter 11, seen in healthcare, retail, and property, keeping up with rules is crucial. Even though these Chapter 11 deals might be smaller, their numbers are rising. This shows how pressing and complicated these sales can be, especially within the law.

Rescue Procedures and Their Role in Exits

In the world of distressed M&A deals, certain rescue steps are key in reducing financial chaos. Methods like administration and company voluntary arrangements (CVA) help a lot. They offer a way to reorganize a business or sell assets well.

Administration especially steps in to help. It shields a business from immediate debt pressure. This pause lets a company either reorganize or find a buyer without worrying about its debts.

Restructuring procedures

Also, the scheme of arrangement is quite handy. Although it doesn’t automatically pause debts, it does help make deals with creditors legally. This is great for creating plans to leave a business, keeping everyone on the same page and following the law.

CVAs help companies pay their debts back while still running. This makes them a go-to choice for keeping the business alive. As more M&A deals happen in the UK, these ways of rescue become more important. They help businesses survive in tough times.

With more deals happening, big money investors will be looking closely. They’ll focus on areas like retail and transport. Knowing how to use these rescue methods can really help get out of a tough deal well.

Timing and Market Opportunities for Exits

Timing is key in distressed M&A exits. It affects how doable and appealing these strategic moves are. Deal values fell from over US$5tn in 2021 to US$2.5tn in 2023. This shows the value of exit timing to grab chances in tough markets. Also, the global deal count dropped by 17%, from 65,000 in 2021 to 55,000 in 2023. This makes acting quickly even more important.

Negotiating right is crucial in tough markets, as big deals are becoming less common. Megadeals fell by 60%, from almost 150 in 2021 to under 60 in 2023. Elements like major contracts, customer ties, and employee trust are often at risk. This means using exit opportunities quickly to keep as much value as possible.

Issues in the financial services M&A world are likely to carry on into 2024. Other sectors, like healthcare and services, might see a lot of struggling deals. This includes hospitals facing money and operational issues. And areas such as retail, hospitality, and leisure have less buying power. So, making timely exits is key for better results for those involved.

Financial Strategies for Maximising Stakeholder Returns

Recovering financially in a tough M&A situation is key to getting the most for stakeholders. These plans focus on buying into companies cheaply due to market troubles. The goal is to spot businesses with lasting value and then turn them around. By doing so, they hope to increase profits and the worth of the business for a better sale later on.

Before the pandemic, fast M&A deals were a growing trend. But COVID-19 hit, leading to a big rush of bargain deals in Q2 2020. Sectors like leisure, hospitality, and retail were hit hard. However, the UK’s economy showed strength by Q3 2020 with a 17% jump. This showed it could bounce back from harsh blows.

Of the 21 fast M&A deals in the last two years, 65% ended up with strategic buyers. Lenders are now carefully watching how companies plan to pay back debts. With new funding like the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), dealing smartly with debts is crucial.

Now, private equity and specialist buyers are putting in a lot of money. This means more chances to sell for struggling companies. Everyone’s working harder to use resources wisely. In fact, most business value actually comes from a small part of the work, showing us where to focus our efforts.

To sum up, smartly evaluating a business’s core strengths and finances is key to steady returns during market ups and downs. By using strong financial plans, stakeholders can tackle challenging M&A situations and come out successful.


In the UK, the world of distressed M&A exits is complex. It is filled with challenges and chances. The effects of the pandemic’s economy and less Government help suggest more distressed cases are coming. This setting is ideal for both financial backers and trade buyers wanting to make the most of these exits.

Handling distressed deals requires careful planning quickly. This happens in situations where there’s not much info or many guarantees for those bidding. Getting help from experts like Burges Salmon is key. They offer advice on many crucial areas like taxes, pensions, and rules. Buyers in these situations face several big challenges, such as dealing with pensions, rules, job matters, and warranty checks.

When leaving an M&A deal, the setup of the deal is crucial. Buyers often prefer deals focused on assets to dodge big debts. The checks on the company being bought are fast, with buyers needing to understand the risks well. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority also closely looks at these deals. Boards of companies in trouble are under heavy stress to do right by those they owe and still follow the law.

Some changes to the UK’s bankruptcy laws might help in this tough business time. Investment money might go into secure debts. This could bring about new structures through specific legal plans. But, to make these plans work, acting fast and understanding the risks is crucial. Those involved must be quick and smart to make things right for everyone involved.

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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