A report produced by data platform Beauhurst and VC Triple Point reflects on the last decade of exits achieved by high growth UK businesses. In this article, multidiscipline M&A advisors, the GS Verde Group, explore acquisition trends and the growing appetite for IPOs.
Exits play an important role in the UK's high growth economy: providing early investors the liquidity to reinvest in the next round of startups, releasing founders to embark on or invest in new ventures and catalysing further expansion for businesses under new helm.
The past 10 years mark a milestone decade for high growth exits in the UK. New and established venture capital investors have been drawn to the maturing UK and European start-up scene, seeking to support the ecosystem with such intensity that investors are funding businesses today at a rate incomparable to 10 years ago.
With this heightened funding, more companies have transformed into attractive IPO candidates or acquisition targets. There has been a significant increase in the number of successful exits, as UK companies reach prime sale value or IPO opportunities crystalise.
2021: A year like no other
If the past 10 years represented a landmark decade, 2021 was the standout year. Rebounding from a difficult prior period, the total value of high-growth company exits last year increased to £26.7b, up five times on 2020 and a 2.4 x increase on the 10-year average.
Between 2011 and 2021 there was a significant increase in both the number and value of exits completed by UK high-growth companies. Unsurprisingly, exit figures experienced some turbulence during 2019 and 2020—caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing economic uncertainties due to the UK's departure from the European Union. Despite the total value of exits plummeting by 70% to £5.1b in 2019, marking a five-year low, the total value rebounded by the end of 2021—increasing by 423% to £26.7b.