UK firms double money for foreign acquisitions

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The Independent Online
UK COMPANIES spent more than twice as much on foreign companies in the first quarter of this year as they did in the same period of 1992, according to figures from KPMG Peat Marwick, the accountants and management consultants.

Although the number of deals dropped from 92 to 80, the value leapt 147 per cent, from dollars 1.9bn ( pounds 1.3bn) to dollars 4.7bn.

The increased UK activity was echoed to a lesser extent in North America. While the United States saw the worth of cross-border purchases fall slightly from dollars 1.9bn in the first quarter of 1992 to dollars 1.7bn this year, Canadian companies spent 350 per cent more - on 18 deals worth dollars 997m.

However, there was a general decline in cross-border deals around the world. They fell 37 per cent to dollars 11.6bn in the first three months of 1993 from dollars 18.3bn last year. This total was a 28 per cent drop compared with the final quarter of last year, when KPMG's Deal Watch recorded 517 deals worth dollars 16bn.

Richard Agutter, KPMG head of mergers and acquisitions, said: 'There is always pressure to finalise deals before the end of the year. So it is not unusual to see a drop in the first quarter. However, the fall this year also reflects difficult political and economic circumstances, particularly in Europe.'

The most active industries by value were chemicals and pharmaceuticals, which accounted for 36 deals worth dollars 2.8bn.