The Azets South West and Wales specialist corporate finance team had their most successful year in 2021. The team, led by Katherine Broadhurst, completed 28 deals during the year with a total value of £145m.

Activity including trade sales, Management Buy Outs, and acquisitions was undertaken by the team for clients who work in a range of sectors. They also worked on several Employee Ownership Trusts which are becoming increasingly popular, as a result of the tax relief available for suitable businesses and deals.

Katherine Broadhurst, Partner at Azets, commented: “With Brexit and COVID being key drivers for transactions, the uncertainty has led to buyers seeking to secure or strengthen their market or resource access, and sellers who have shown resilience and adaptability in these uncertain times, able to capitalise on this.

Interestingly, the industry with the most activity during last year was wholesale, retail and distribution, representing around 25% of the total deals completed. Within this sector however there are a number of more resilient sub-sectors who capitalised on growth with increased online shopping and domestic leisure activities as restrictions lift. However, with the recent rise of the Omicron variant, and the risk of further tightening of restrictions, resilience and adaptability will continue to be key, with due diligence focusing on maintainability of profits.

As well as this, the challenges of cross border supply chains continue to be evident due to ongoing Brexit implications – in some industries, internalising profit by acquiring vertically in the supply chain is a way of managing the inflationary pressures currently evident in the market.”

Despite the market facing the largest financial challenges since 2008, the success of the Azets South West and Wales Corporate Finance team is reflected in the overall market, with statistics from MergerMarket* for first 3 quarters of 2021 showing that M&A transactions involving a UK target had already vastly exceeded those for the entirety of 2020 – both in number and value.

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