NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

British Firms On Buying Binge

January 27, 1999

For years, Britons have watched as foreign firms bought up large shares of their companies. But all that changed last year when their business leaders paid out more than those of any other country to snap up foreign companies.

  • The KPMG accounting firm reports that British companies spent $127.7 billion buying foreign companies last year.
  • Even had BP, the oil giant, not spent $61 billion of that to buy Amoco, Britain would still have been the second biggest buyer of foreign firms -- just behind the U.S.
  • Plenty of well-known "American" firms are now British -- including Brooks Brothers, Burger King and Pillsbury.
  • The flow of British direct investment abroad -- which includes building new factories and offices as well as buying companies -- reached $58.2 billion in 1997, behind America's $114.5 billion.

Among the major nations, Britain's overseas assets trail only those of the U.S. In 1997, Britain invested more in the U.S. than in any other country -- and America invested more in Britain than anywhere else.

Source: "Ruling the Merger Wave," Economist, January 23, 1999.


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