As corporate lawyers we are often asked what activity levels and deal flow are like. For individual firms it is, in truth, difficult to judge the overall activity levels in the UK. There is also a risk of overthinking how items in the news that month will impact on businesses' willingness to do deals.
Interestingly the ONS have recently published statistics showing the number of M&A deals that completed between January 2019 and December 2023 with a deal value of over £1m (see graph).
What strikes me about the figures is that the total number of deals is pretty stable overall. We all know that the number of the deals fell at the start of COVID, with activity coming back when restrictions were lifted. Given the various other crises that have occurred since the start of 2019 (i.e. three Prime Minsters ago) the variation is less than perhaps could be expected.
From personal experience it looks like that relative stability has continued into 2023, despite interest rate hikes, bank collapses and a cost of living crisis. Fingers crossed, however, that the dip in volumes at the end of the graph does not materialise into something more dramatic.