2018 a record year for M&A

 Sales of UK companies to other British companies were the highest in a decade in 2018, the strongest year for M&A since the financial crash in 2008.

According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) the value of UK mergers and acquisitions was £26.5bn, and the number of domestic deals reached 842, the highest since 869 transactions were achieved in 2007.

The weaker pound has made UK assets more attractive to overseas buyers and foreign firms shelled out £71.1bn on UK companies in 2018, twice the £35.2bn the previous year. Conversely, the value of UK companies buying firms abroad fell to £22.7bn last year, down from £77.5bn in 2017.

Strong demands for deals from private equity firms underpinned M&A activity with private equity houses under pressure to deploy their “dry powder” and this has meant that it is a good time for UK firms to seek investment or an exit.

Looking at the trend for deals in 2019, the Bishopsgate team entered the year with their highest level of Work-in-Progress although they have several projects “on hold” waiting for the Brexit cloud to lift. Q1 and Q2 of 2019 is likely to be more subdued for deal making with a bounce in the second half of the year assuming our politicians can sort themselves out. 

James McBain Allan promoted to Partner


James joined the firm in 2017 and has since led a number of high profile cross-border transactions most notably Barracudas, the UK’s largest childrens summer camps provider, the sale of Davies Veterinary Group to Mars and the sale of an agricultural machinery manufacturer to an Indian PLC.

 He has been key to the businesses continued growth and his promotion follows another record year for Bishopsgate.

James McBain Allan, Partner commented “I am looking forward to overseeing a growing team at Bishopsgate as we look to bolster the deal making team. We will continue to invest in both people and our infrastructure to support growth in order to provide our clients with industry leading M&A advice “

  Simon Stephenson, Chairman commented “James has made an outstanding start in his career at Bishopsgate and has led a number of high profile transactions since joining the team. We welcome James’s appointment as a Partner and shareholder in Bishopsgate and we are confident that he will instrumental in driving Bishopsgate’s continued growth with an expanding team and increasing deal flow.”

The Bishopsgate Corporate Finance team move into King’s Mill

King’s Mill, St Peter’s Vale, Stamford. PE9 2QT

King’s Mill, St Peter’s Vale, Stamford. PE9 2QT

The Bishopsgate Corpporate Finance team has moved into King’s Mill, a former watermill on Bath Row in Stamford, following an extensive refurbishment by Burghley Estates.  One of the most historic buildings in the area, a mill was first recorded on the site in the Domesday survey of 1086, and was listed amongst King John’s possessions in the early thirteenth century.

This move and investment signals a statement of intent by BCF as the business continues to invest in its team, infrasture and capabilities to offer market leading M&A advice to owner managers.


The history of King’s Mill is fascinating.  In 1561, Queen Elizabeth I granted her principal secretary, Sir William Cecil K.G., 1st Baron of Burghley, the manor of Stamford plus the water mill in Stamford, called North Mills.  When acquired by Sir William Cecil, North Mills were also known as “the Queen’s Mills” and by 1627 the mills were referred to as ‘King’s Mill’.

At the end of the sixteenth and start of the seventeenth centuries, King’s Mill was at the centre of a lengthy dispute, locally.  All the inhabitants of Stamford were obliged to grind their corn at King’s Mill or obtain permission to use Stamford’s only other mill - Hudd’s Mill.  However, Stamford’s inhabitants were frustrated by the small capacity of the mill and often took their corn to mills in nearby villages to be ground, whilst some even set up querns in their own property. In 1601, Lord Burghley received the Exchequer’s support to defend his monopoly, but the dispute continued with the people of Stamford until 1640 when the Exchequer decreed that all corn must be taken to King’s Mill ‘provided that if it cannot be ground there within eight and forty hours, then they may take it away to be ground elsewhere’.  We know the current building was constructed around 1640 so it is likely it was built as a result of this decree, in order to increase the mill’s capacity and maintain Lord Burghley’s monopoly.

Joseph Robinson bought the property, then vacant, in 1784 for £100. He erected a granary on the north side of the mill in 1793, together with other alterations and additions. Thomas Gilchrist later bought King’s Mill upon Robinson’s death in January 1823.

The mill was used up until the early 20th Century and the property is now Grade II listed.  In 1967, it was converted into a day care centre for the handicapped before being refurbished by Burghley Estates for Bishopsgate Corporate Finance and its sister company BCF Equity Partners in 2018.