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2004 record year for M&A in UK by UK companies

 The  UK has seen the highest number of M&A deals conducted by UK companies

 for  10  years, with a total of 694 acquisitions in 2004, according to the

 latest statistics published yesterday by the Office of National Statistics

 and analysed by Grant Thornton Corporate Finance.


 "These  statistics  show  that  UK  M&A  activity continues to demonstrate

 strength  and  resilience  both  in  terms of deal volumes and values. The

 general  picture  of UK M&A is a healthy one, where buyers are looking for

 good investments and will pay excellent prices for strategically important

 businesses.  This  is  especially prevalent in the mid market," says David

 Brooks, head of M&A at Grant Thornton Corporate Finance.


 "Private Equity has been a major driver in sustaining deal activity levels

 and  favouring  a  bout  of  highly  leveraged  transactions  such  as the

 institutional buyout of Saga.  Debt levels in buy-out structures has hit a

 record level as many banks have shifted their focus from being risk averse

 towards  generating higher cash margins through leveraged buyout financing

 structures.  With  improving  UK corporate profitability, and a relatively

 stable  economy,  this  trend  looks  set  to  continue in the foreseeable



 "January  has  already  seen  one  big  deal  announced  with the proposed

 acquisition  of  Gillette  by Procter and Gamble, and this could well be a

 sign for more of the same this year.

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