UK takeover deal figures show slump in run-up to Brexit vote

The Union Jack (bottom) and the European Union flag are seen flying, at the border of Gibraltar with Spain, in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, historically claimed by Spain, June 27, 2016. REUTERS/Jon Nazca/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - The number of takeover deals involving British companies slumped in the second quarter, adding to signs that firms postponed plans to expand in the run-up to June’s Brexit vote, official data showed on Tuesday.

Deals involving British companies - both domestic and cross-border - fell to 87 in the second quarter from 190 in the first three months of the year, the Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday.

That marked the smallest number of transactions since comparable records started in the first quarter of 2010.

The figures corroborate surveys from the Bank of England and Deloitte that showed businesses put major plans for investment and expansion on hold in the run-up to the Brexit vote, despite solid turnover and orders.

Economists expect doubts about Britain’s future trading ties will continue to cloud businesses’ plans, eventually weighing on economic growth even if the country avoids a large immediate hit from the shock vote to leave the EU.

There were only 20 instances of foreign companies buying British firms in the second quarter, down from 52 in the first quarter and the fewest since the start of 2013, the ONS said.

The number of mergers and acquisitions between British companies collapsed to 47 from 95.

The ONS figures also showed the value of takeover deals fell sharply in the second quarter to 14 billion pounds ($18.70 billion), down from 69 billion pounds in a first quarter that was boosted by the $52 billion merger of Royal Dutch Shell RDSa.L and BG Group.

($1 = 0.7486 pounds)

Reporting by Andy Bruce