How local and strong sector expertise is future proofing the Northern dealmaking community

Christian Mayo

Christian Mayo, Partner, Head of Corporate Finance North KPMG, has grounds for optimism

The Northern dealmaking community has grown and changed a lot in the past 30 years that I’ve been a part of it, mirroring in some ways the changes we have seen in the region as our cities have grown, businesses have chosen the North as their home and sector-clusters have formed. 

We have a vibrant and independent ecosystem that serves every aspect of the market with its bedrock of private equity, bankers, lawyers and corporate finance.

As a result, the region has weathered what could be described as a tepid 18 months, and there are now green shoots as activity picks back up. We’ve certainly seen this increased confidence play out recently, having advised on eleven completed deals in the last five months.

From what I am seeing in the North, the most impressive aspect of this early-stage recovery is that the deal flow is predominantly being serviced by the local dealmaking community.  While the Northern deals market may be second to London, it’s easy to forget that this vibrant community is the same size as many European countries’ deals market.

As well as its size, the deal market across the North is served by a rich pool of talent. It is bustling with private equity people providing capital, bankers funding growth, lawyers facilitating deals and corporate financiers selling businesses.  Indeed, there are around 150 private equity, venture capital and family office firms headquartered across the region. This will come as no surprise to anyone who knows our long and rich history of dealmaking which makes the upcoming Rainmakers Conference such a fitting celebration.

Our dealmaking community’s appeal extends far beyond its borders, with the region routinely attracting large international players who want to invest and we are seeing a significant proportion of businesses being bought by an overseas buyer or investor.

So, what are Northern dealmaker’s getting right? We have mulled over that extensively and believe that the combination of a regional presence and strong sector expertise is the real differentiator – which is proving hard to compete against.

However, the local dealmaking community can’t be complacent, as the hybrid world post-Covid world that we’re all operating in has now opened up to dealmakers from further afield, who can target local deals from a sector-led perspective – and in theory, from anywhere across the globe. In the Corporate Finance space, we are seeing deal flow above £100m of Enterprise value migrating towards a sector first and relationship second approach.

At KPMG our regions are important, so we are committed to building strong sector knowledge into our local teams who can then combine that with their regional expertise.

This commitment has seen us recently promote two new partners in Manchester – Nisha Sharma who has a focus on technology and media companies and Rick Stark, who is focused on business services. We also have many other local experts covering healthcare, industrials, consumer and financial services sectors. All of our experts are plugged into our global sector expertise, which means we can support the full range of Northern business owners from both a market-leading relationship and sector perspective.

We know that our clients and businesses tend to want to work with local advisers wherever they can, and we exist to help our clients in the North achieve their ambitions.  The combination of local advice, market-leading sector expertise and access to a global, multidisciplinary network is second to none, and will further help to future-proof our region’s dealmaking community.

I’m confident the North will continue to thrive as a vibrant deals community and I’m really looking forward to working with my team and helping the region’s businesses with their M&A ambitions.