‘Investors are done waiting’: UK’s historic EU divorce


The historic divorce by the UK from the European Union is today, 31 January, at 11pm (local time) and it is being reported that business leaders can’t wait for the moment with £100 billion-plus ready to invest.

The UK had been in the European Union for 47 years but the public’s majority wish to leave in June 2016 has been finally brokered after Boris Johnson’s landslide election win last month brought the three years of parliamentary fighting to a close. There will now be an 11-month transition period with the UK obeying EU rules and paying money to the EU as Johnson tries to strike a trade deal with the EU.

With little market confidence with no future certain last year, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) dealmakers told The Telegraph that the EU divorce will trigger an upswing in corporate spending and private equity investment.

“I am confident about this year’s pipeline,” Dwayne Lysaght, M&A co-head of Europe, the Middle East and Africa at JP Morgan, told The Telegraph.

“Buyout funds still have a lot of money to put to work and leverage markets are very strong. There is still quite a bit of distance to cover with our EU partners, but investors are done waiting.”

Ian Hart, UBS chairman of investment banking, said “the year has started with a renewed sense of confidence about M&A in the UK”.

Buyout funds had an estimated US$166 billion (UK£128 billion) ready for deployment in the UK at the end of 2019 and allocated as much as US$298 million (UK£229 million) in additional investment in the last 30 days of the year, according to financial data company Refinitiv.

Eamon Brabazon, M&A co-head for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said: “UK M&A really bounced back towards the back end of last year and the interest in UK assets, particularly by the private equity community, has been demonstrably more.”

Lord Wolfson, the Brexit-backing CEO of retailer Next, said the challenges “aren’t nearly as big as they were hyped up to be”.

“What is important is that Britain will be free to regulate her own industries going forward, and whether or not that is a good thing or a bad thing will depend on how the Government uses its new-found powers.”

UK, DP World, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem

Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of the world’s third biggest ports operator DP World, said the UK’s respected governance and banking system would help it thrive outside the EU.

Bin Sulayem, whose firm is set to almost double the capacity of its London Gateway container shipping terminal by building a new deep-water berth, said: “The UK without the EU will be stronger. The EU in the beginning was a strong bloc because it included Germany, the likes of the UK, Ireland.

“But as soon as they started to add economies that had never been practising capitalism …. That is not an EU capable (of continuing).”

Johnson, will give a televised speech an hour before the divorce.

“The most important thing to say tonight is that this is not an end but a beginning,” Johnson will say, reported BBC News.

“This is the moment when the dawn breaks and the curtain goes up on a new act. It is a moment of real national renewal and change.”

In his address, filmed at 10 Downing Street, Johnson will also say: “This is the dawn of a new era in which we no longer accept that your life chances – your family’s life chances – should depend on which part of the country you grow up in.

“This is the moment when we begin to unite and level up.”

About three million commemorative 50p Brexit coins bearing the date “31 January” and the inscription: “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations”, will enter circulation on Friday.

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