2018 - a bumper year for M&A despite Brexit uncertainty

Despite the Brexit overhang, 2018 was another bumper year for the UK M&A market. According to Experian there were 7,539 deals announced in 2018, up 2.3% on the 7,369 transactions completed in 2017. This was the highest number of annual transactions ever recorded by Experian against a backdrop of political and economic uncertainty.

Deal activity across the Midlands remained relatively static compared to the previous year, with 977 deals announced versus 967 in 2017. Overall, total deal value fell by 1.8% to £18.2bn but it was 35% higher than the 2016 outcome. The Midlands was the third busiest region of the UK in 2018.

Just over 15% of deals in the region were financed via private equity, making it the second most common form of funding in the region. The 150 deals funded by private equity also represented a 34% increase in the number of private equity deals compared to 2017.

Bishopsgate finished the year strongly with the sale of an undisclosed manufacturing business to a listed Indian buyer and, in the last two weeks, completed on the sale of Davies Veterinary, Europe’s leading veterinary hospital to Mars Petcare. The midnight oil is being burnt in Stamford with several deals due to complete in the next 4 to 6 weeks; however, we have several projects “on hold” ready for launch as soon as the cloud lifts over Whitehall. When that will happen is anybody’s guess.

Leading Veterinary Group sold by Bishopsgate Corporate Finance to US based Mars.


The team at Bishopsgate Corporate Finance led by James McBain Allan has advised the Shareholders of Davies Veterinary Specialists (“Davies”) on the successful cross border sale to Linnaeus, the UK division of Mars Petcare’s extensive Veterinary Health Group.

Davies Veterinary Specialists was established in 1995 to provide specialist referral services to the UK veterinary market. The business has since flourished under the founders and subsequent management teams and is now recognised as the leading veterinary hospital for small animals within the UK and one of the largest in Europe.

It will be business as usual at Davies for staff, pets and its referral network alike and it is an exciting time for both businesses as they look to the future.

Nat Whitley, Clinical Director at Davies Veterinary Specialists;

“We are delighted to be joining the Linnaeus Group of veterinary practices.  We look forward to sharing mutual expertise and support, as well as continuing to uphold the same values through our shared commitment to excellence and our promise to deliver outstanding care”

James McBain Allan, Director of Bishopsgate Corporate Finance and lead adviser commented;

“Davies is a typical example of Bishopsgate’s long term relationships with its clients, which has resulted in a fantastic result for the Davies shareholders. We have advised on the two previous Davies management buy-outs which ensured we became embedded in the business and were able to drive value for all 16 shareholders. This evidences the continued appetite for UK assets from overseas acquirers and I look forward to witnessing the continued success of Davies as part of the Linnaeus Group.”