Slowdown in merger and acquisition deals

Weak bank lending and inertia in the public sector are being blamed for a slowdown in merger and acquisition activity in Scotland.

The Deal Drivers UK study by accountancy firm PKF found that the value of M&A activity during the first quarter for the UK as a whole surged by 63 per cent to 23.2 billion.

Although separate figures were unavailable for Scotland, Frank Paterson - a corporate finance partner with PKF - claimed there is little sign of increased M&A activity north of the Border and there is also a lack of optimism about the immediate future for growth.

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Paterson said: "Scotland has yet to feel the most severe effects of public sector cuts because they are still filtering through the system. Some of the cuts may not even be implemented until the spring of next year.

"I believe we've had a soft landing, but the impact of budget cuts will become more severe and that, in turn, will impact on the wider economy."

Paterson also pointed the finger at a lack of bank lending, which he said was holding back corporate activity.

The report painted a more positive picture for the UK as a whole, with the average deal size in the first quarter standing at about 105 million, up from 66m at the start of 2010. The number of deals per quarter has exceeded 200 since the start of 2010, compared with a quarterly peak of 169 deals in 2009.

Energy and financial services were the most active sectors.