Mergers and Acquisitions

Inside the UK’s take-private boom

Public-to-private transactions have surged in recent months, driving an increase in competing bids and heightened scrutiny from regulators.

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By Paul Betts, Sam Jackson, Valentina Proverbio
Published May 10, 2022 | 1 min read
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Key Points

  • UK take-private transactions surged to 19 in 2021 from just five in 2020, with deal value increasing from £4bn to £29.3bn over the same period.
  • Many deals are part of a broader trend of UK-listed entities being taken off the market by large-cap private equity firms with significant funds to deploy.
  • The volume and value of such deals is driving an increase in competitive bids and heightened regulatory scrutiny.
  • Going forward, PLCs and private equity firms will need to be ever more diligent in executing their value-creation strategies.

The recent boom in public-to-private transactions involving UK listed companies is being driven by several factors. Many deals are part of a broader trend of UK-listed entities being taken off the public markets by large-cap private equity firms, with significant capital to deploy.

These bigger PE funds need investments of a certain size to have any significant effect on their portfolio, but a finite number of private companies of scale available for purchase has resulted in an unusually high number of competitive bids for larger listed targets.

“It’s an unusually competitive market for take-privates, with the bigger PE funds all chasing larger listed targets to make a meaningful impact on their portfolio.”

Sam Jackson, Director, M&A, Europe


Deals of these size have also attracted heightened regulatory scrutiny, requiring both PLCs and PE firms to be ever more diligent in navigating the confines of the UK Takeover Code, particularly in sectors seen as critical for national security purposes. However, despite the increase in regulatory pressure, the surge in take private transactions looks set to continue.

With cash flush corporates, sponsors and PE funds all sitting on record amounts of dry powder, investors are ramping up pressure on them to deploy it, either to take advantage of current market conditions or get ready for new realities caused by technological innovation, supply chain disruption or energy transition.

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