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January 24, 2018

UK Mid-tier accounting firms beat Big Four at M&A advice

By Stephanie Wix

Grant Thornton, RSM and BDO have taken the top three places for the number of M&A deals for which they acted as financial advisors, in Experian Market IQ’s 2017 survey for mergers and acquisitions in the UK.

However, when it came to transaction values only two accountancy firms were in the top 20 financial advisors, KPMG and EY ranked 16th and 19th respectively. KPMG had earned £7.1m, and EY £5.7m, compared to Morgan Stanley (£62.4m) and Goldman Sachs (£45.m8) took first and second place.

Grant Thornton advised on 165 deals, RSM advised 145, and 128 deals were advised by BDO, with all three also performing well on a regional level. EY was the highest ranked of the Big Four firms, taking sixth place and advising on 86 deals, while PwC came ninth with 81, and Deloitte 18th with 51.

Grant Thornton UK attributed the ranking to a 25% increase in the volume of transactions for the M&A team, totalling £5.5bn, with a quarter of transactions from cross-border deals and 33% involving private equity backing. Yet their total number of deal completions was down by 10%.

Grant Thornton UK partner and head of corporate finance advisory Andy Morgan said: “Whilst the overall deal market experienced some economic and political headwinds, 2017 was a very busy and exciting year for our team.”

He predicted continued growth in 2018: “Valuations remain strong – and perhaps frothy in some areas – however, the level of liquidity in equity, debt and public markets and the continued appetite of international corporates for quality UK assets provides a strong underpin for deal activity into 2018.”

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