Private equity’s growing appetite for UK-listed targets comes with the need for Takeover Code-savvy dealmakers.

By Doug Abernethy, Richard Butterwick, Tom Evans, David J. Walker, and Catherine Campbell

Amid stiff competition for attractive private targets, PE firms are competing more regularly against corporates and rival sponsors for listed targets, requiring skillful navigation of the dynamics of a contested UK take-private within the tight confines of the Takeover Code.

Several deals underline appetite for listed targets at mid-market and large-cap levels, including Towerbrook and Warburg Pincus’ £219 million takeover of The AA, CD&R’s £7 billion acquisition of W M Morrison, and Blackstone’s £3.5 billion acquisition of Signature Aviation, with PE bidders also recently involved in high-profile competitive situations around Sanne Group and Vectura. Once a rarity, Takeover Panel formal auction procedures have become more frequent in recent years, highlighted by the multibillion-pound Morrisons deal.