Foreign takeovers in UK treble to £20bn

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The Independent Online

The number of foreign predators completing deals in the UK has trebled in the first three months of the year, according to official statistics, although the number of takeovers completed in the full year is expected to fall dramatically because of the credit crunch.

The value of completed takeovers by foreign companies for UK rivals rose from £6.4bn in the first three months of 2007 to £19.9bn in the same period this year, according to the Office of National Statistics. Significant transactions included the £8.1bn acquisition of ICI by Akzo Nobel and Italy's ENI buying Burren Energy for £1.7bn.

At the same time, the amount UK companies have spent on buying abroad has risen from £4.5bn to £15.5bn, dominated by the completion of Imperial Tobacco's takeover of the Spanish rival Altadis for £9.3bn.

Experts warned the nature of large M&A deals meant many of the major transactions would have been agreed before the credit crunch. John Cole, partner at Ernst & Young, said: "The impact will be felt in the next few quarters. The number and value of completed deals will fall considerably."

Domestic consolidation in the UK fell from £5.4bn to £3.6bn.