The future of M&A: UK Finance’s M&A conference

Over the past few years, the global M&A market has been fraught with challenges such as high inflation, rising interest rates and geopolitical tensions. There is cautious optimism for 2024, with forecasts of a revival of global M&A activity.  

We are therefore delighted to be holding our inaugural Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) Conference on Thursday 21 March 2024, which will look at how transaction parties can successfully navigate common challenges in completing deals. 

This (morning) half-day event will bring together practitioners and stakeholders from across the M&A industry, including investment banks, investors, lawyers, regulators, private equity practitioners and corporates to share fresh insights into the world of deal making. This event is organised under the auspices of UK Finance’s Corporate Finance Committee, which consists of senior investment bankers who lead the M&A advisory practice at our member investment banks.  

Current and emerging M&A trends

A multi-disciplinary faculty of speakers will share their insights on current M&A trends in the panel discussion ‘What is keeping deal makers awake at night?’.  This panel will discuss a broad array of topics including the continued importance of ESG, cyber security, deal structuring and deal financing in a high-interest rate environment, and the future impact of AI on M&A.

Cross border merger controls and investment screening regimes  

The ability to navigate complex cross border regulatory regimes for merger control and investment screening is vital for successful and timely deal completion.  

In this context, UK Finance recently responded to the Cabinet Office’s Call for Evidence on the National Security and Investment Act. Our response proposed exempting certain transactions that pose no threat to national security from the mandatory notification regime, such as internal reorganisations where there is no change in control of the ultimate parent company.  

We also proposed enhanced engagement from the Investment Security Unit during the pre-notification stage by way of individual guidance to help parties make timely and more accurate decisions as to whether or not a mandatory notification is required. We also recommended more effective communication post notification. 

In recent years, regulators have also seemingly taken a more interventionist approach to merger control. In the UK, since 1 January 2019, of the 55 definitive outcomes of the CMA cases sent to Phase II, 59 per cent of these Phase II cases did not survive (i.e. they were blocked or abandoned) - compared to 30 per cent for the period from CMA formation to the end of 2017, a close to 100 per cent increase.

In January 2024, UK Finance responded to the CMA consultation on draft revised guidance on its merger investigation process. The proposed changes have the potential to make the Phase 2 regime more transparent and ensure that merger parties have an opportunity to engage with the Inquiry Group at an earlier stage of the process. 

The panel, 'Getting the deal done. How do anti-trust and national security restrictions impact deal certainty? A comparative view from the UK, EU, and US’, will explore how parallel reviews can impact on deal timelines and how dealmakers can navigate these challenges to get the deal done.  

Shareholder engagement  

Effective shareholder engagement builds trust between a company and its shareholders. In our panel, ‘Getting shareholder engagement right in the context of M&A’, speakers from the advisory and investor community will explore key considerations for effective shareholder engagement, including dealing with shareholder activism ahead of and during the bid process. 

We will also be joined by the Takeover Panel’s Director General to provide a keynote address on the Panel’s plans for 2024 and beyond. 

Do not miss your chance to join us for a great day of insights and to network with leading M&A practitioners.

Register today to secure your space.