EY’s Strategy and Transactions teams in the North of England advised on deals worth a total of nearly £3.8bn in 2022.

The top deals acted on in 2022 by the firm’s experts in the North included three worth more than half a billion pounds each, with the £740mn divestment of Saint Gobain’s merchanting brands to STARK Group the highest value transaction of the year.

Another significant deal EY helped seal was the £667mn divestment, by East Yorkshire-based Croda, of its Performance Technologies and Industrial Chemicals business to a wholly-owned subsidiary of global food corporation Cargill Inc.

Following the successes achieved in 2022, and despite a challenging economic backdrop, EY’s teams in the North are optimistic about the prospects for 2023.

Mark Clephan, EY North corporate finance partner, said: “At EY, we invested very significantly in our people and capability across the North in 2022, and I am therefore not surprised, but nonetheless proud, of the size, complexity and importance of the transactions we advised on last year.

“Looking forward to 2023, the outlook remains uncertain, but we remain confident that the deals market will start steadily and improve throughout the year. Uncertainty persists over key business input costs and expenses, and similarly there is flux in end markets. However, consumer trends and volatile costs early in the year will likely improve, and growing confidence should facilitate increasing deal volumes.

“Deals are completed in times of both recession or economic growth – it is uncertainty that threatens transactions. We are seeing increasing confidence and believe that the picture will show consistent improvement throughout 2023.”

With sustainability growing in importance for businesses and society alike, there was a boost for clean technology in the North of England in Q4 2022 as EY acted as lead advisor to Iduna as they secured up to £110mn of funding from Octopus Energy Generation for their Manchester-based electric vehicle charging infrastructure business, Be.EV.

Significant appetite to invest in technology was also evident in 2022, with businesses continuing to pursue the largely untapped potential of digital capabilities.

Last year’s tech deals acted on by EY included, but were not limited to, SymphonyAI’s acquisition of financial crime detection business, NetReveal®, from defence contractor BAE Systems; the sale of Warrington-based software company Talos360 to Lloyds Development Capital Limited (LDC); and the purchase of leading salesforce consultancy, Pexlify, by Japanese PR and advertising firm, Dentsu Group, in a bid to strengthen their customer transformation and technology capabilities.

Momentum in the technology sector is a trend EY expects to be consistent in the 2023 deals market, as businesses place an increasing emphasis on exploring the potential of maximising both efficiency and innovation through digital transformation.