• Now account for almost half of acquisitions by international buyers

Expanding US corporates are accounting for a growing proportion of UK M&A activity, reveals new research from Wedlake Bell LLP, the City law firm.

In the twelve months to the end of June 2011, US buyers acquired 22 UK listed companies, an increase of 83% on the number of US led deals that completed in the previous 12 months.

The world's largest economy accounted for almost half (47%) of overseas purchases of UK listed companies in the last year up from 25% in the last year.

During the last year US buyers accounted for 26% of all acquisitions of UK listed companies from just 10% during the previous 12 month period.

Tim Bird, Partner and Head of the Corporate Team at Wedlake Bell, says: "The US economy might have suffered like everywhere else, but its scale and diversity means that US buyers have been better able than most to take advantage of the buying opportunity presented by the recession."

"US companies have been making acquisitions of UK companies right across the board, but particularly in technology, renewable resources and media companies where the UK is seen as a great incubator for new ideas and technologies."

"UK brand names are also proving attractive, particularly where they are key to the acquirer's ambitions to enlarge their global reach: Cadbury's position in the emerging markets was one of the key motivations behind the Kraft bid."

Wedlake Bell point out that M&A activity on the UK listed markets continues to be relatively subdued. There were 86 acquisitions of UK listed companies in the twelve months to the end of June 2011. This is down 23% on the 112 deals completing during the previous twelve months.

Says Tim Bird: "UK companies have so far been holding back from going on a major post-recession bargain-hunting spree."

"That could change now that corporates feel they have more clarity over the direction of government policy and how the deficit reduction plan is likely to affect them."

"Since the credit crunch, UK companies have been reducing their debt and building up their cash. An easing of credit conditions and a bit more economic good news and we will hopefully see a resurgence of home grown deal making."

Overseas bidders for UK listed companies 2010 - 2011

Click here to view the graph.