The UK is the third most popular destination for international investors' cash, up from fourth last year and risen from the modest rank of eighth in 2013, according to a report published by the World Economic Forum.
The UK is still behind the US and China, but led the way within Europe as the continent emerged as the big winner for investor confidence.
The UK has set the rate for economic recovery within Europe – which dominates 75 per cent of the top 25 countries favoured by investors – amid a global shift towards investing in more stable markets, said the authors of the report.
International investors are putting their cash in UK companies
Erik R Peterson is a partner at US-based A T Kearney, which founded the survey in 1998. Peterson said it was significant that the UK was up there with huge economic machines China and the US.
"The UK has really benefited from a move to more stable, less unpredictable markets," said Mr Peterson. "We’re seeing a return to security and stability. Five years ago everyone was talking about the BRIC countries [Brazil, Russia, India and China], but look at where we are now."
Business-friendly efforts within the UK have paid off, said Mr Peterson, with tax reductions of 20 per cent since multilayer reforms in 2007, high employment rates and the narrowly avoided Scottish Independence reassuring those watching overseas.
Consumers are more confident about the EU, which includes the UK, than they are about the eurozone
"The UK has come out very well in this," he said. "There’s a real bullishness from foreign investors with respect to the UK economy, particularly from China which sees a lot of potential there."
And coming out on top are the real estate, food and telecoms sectors - helping pull the UK ahead of Germany in 5th place, France in 8th and Italy in 12th.
The hot new deals saw everything from the second-largest mobile network operator come to the nation’s shores to the world’s third-largest biscuit maker be created.
One of the UK’s biggest property deals in history also showed how attractive London’s infamously expensive real estate is to foreign investors – with an estate in Canary Wharf snapped up earlier in the year for $4 billion.
While the investors from Qatar and Canada now plan to develop the 30 acres of vacant land for the first time since 2008, elsewhere in the financial district a Chinese company bought another set of offices for an eye-watering $1.35 billion.
Hot on the heels of real estate is the food sector, a favourite of developing markets this year. In late 2014 United Biscuits was acquired by a Turkish company which now has the happy claim to being the third-biggest biscuit maker in the world. Pizza Express, meanwhile, will be getting a makeover overseas in a bid to appeal to Asian diners with its new China-based owners.
But currently sweeping the international investor frenzy is telecoms. Mobile network giants O2 UK and Three will come together under a new Hong Kong investor to become the second-largest operator for a staggering $15.2 billion – whilst BT is on the verge of selling EE to Deutsche Telekom and France’s Orange, leaving the UK with three, rather than four, mobile networks.
Mr Peterson warned against complacency.
"We always need to be careful about being overconfident. We’re in a very strong period of cross-currents of different forces globally," he said. "But this is a good sign. It’s a sign of good things to come."Reuse content